Everybody seems to be talking about the Department of Health's new video on YouTube. The subject of all the fascination? A man drinking a can of soda with fat (yes, I said fat) pouring into his mouth. The image is vile and disgusting, but effective! During the video, you learn that drinking just one can of soda a day can lead to a 10 pound fat gain in just one year. I would guess that the majority of the population did not know that one daily soda could lead to such a large weight gain.
The video is straight to the point, brutally honest, and quite frankly, something parents needs to see. Shock value works. Remember the commercials that showed what smoking does to the body's organs? Of course you do. How could you forget? I know many people who decided to quit smoking after watching those commercials. You can no longer ignore what you are doing to your body when you are forced to watch it, to visualize the effects.
When people think about weight gain and obese children, they usually imagine a kid sitting down to a fast food lunch and a hot fudge sundae. Obviously, those food choices will lead to weight gain. But so will drinking sugary drinks, a cause of obesity that often gets overlooked. These forms of liquid candy are just as dangerous to our children's health. Drinking sugary beverages has been directly linked to tooth decay, weakened bones, caffeine dependence and, of course, obesity.
Did you know that one 12 ounce can of soda contains the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar? No parent would ever knowingly give her child a glass of water filled with 10 teaspoons of sugar; yet that is what you are doing each time you pop open a can of pop. Each additional serving of soda increases a child's odds of obesity by 60% and can increase body mass index (BMI) dramatically.
Sugary beverages add "empty calories" with no nutritional content. Many children who drink soda do not consume enough calcium and vitamin D, leading to bone demineralization and increased fractures. Caffeine in soda also causes the body to excrete more calcium in the urine and further increase bone loss.
A 2003 study from the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that soda consumption increased 60% from 1991 to 1996. More than 15 billion gallons of soda were sold in 2000 alone!
Parents greatly underestimate the damage of sugary drinks. In the past decade soda has replaced milk and water as the go to beverages at meal times and is a leading contributor to weight gain and many health issues. Many parents still allow their kids to have a soda or other sugary beverage each day.
According to the National Health Institute, "studies show that people who consume many foods and drinks with added sugar tend to consume more calories than people who consume fewer of these foods. They also show a link between weight gain and drinking sweetened beverages. Cutting back on added sugars, especially from sweetened beverages such as regular soda and fruit punch, can help you and your family maintain a healthy weight."
I applaud the Department of Health for taking all necessary steps to inform the public about the dangers of sugary beverages. This video is not easy to watch and is even harder to forget! May the image stick in the minds of all parents who indulge their kids with sugary beverages.
Follow Joanna Dolgoff, M.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/joannadolgoffmd