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Mache Seibel, MD

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American Cancer Society Requests Research on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Posted: 07/06/2012 1:05 pm

Americans love their soda. (Americans consumed 9.4 billion cases of soft drinks in 2009.) Mayor Bloomberg thinks it is too much and unhealthy and is pushing hard to limit the largest size sodas in New York restaurants to 16 ounces. Now the stakes of unhealthy sugary drinks is reaching a new high. The American Cancer Society (ACS) believes that the health risks of drinking soda should be viewed by U.S. health officials in the same way that they viewed the health risks of using tobacco in the 1960s.

To make their point, the nonprofit arm of the ACS wrote requesting a federal study to make the point and serve as a landmark on this topic -- just like the comparable study in 1964 by the Surgeon General make the point about tobacco.

Christopher W. Hansen, president of the ACS Cancer Action Network, wrote:

"An unbiased and comprehensive report on the impact of sugar-sweetened beverages could have a major impact on the public's consciousness. We know there is a direct link between excessive consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity, and the adverse health effect can be profound."


We have a serious problem in this country with obesity. According to the Get America Fit Foundation, obesity is considered the United States' leading public health crisis and the No. 2 cause of preventable death. Mr. Hansen's intent on writing to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was to highlight a possible link between obesity and cancer. This seems a logical suggestion because the ACS's cancer-prevention guidelines state, "... consuming a healthy diet can substantially reduce one's lifetime risk of developing or dying from cancer."

Some headway is being made in creating awareness of soda's link to obesity, and even the soda companies are looking for ways to address this issue by creating other beverages that are less sugary. Also, even if there were no sodas, America's obesity problem would not evaporate; we have to address exercise and nutrition in general as well as make healthy foods available to all our citizens. But cutting out sodas or at least reducing the amount we consume each year in this country would make it easier for many to drop some of those unwanted pounds and lower their risk of heart disease and cancer.

To underscore the point, below is a HealthRock music video called "Liquid Candy." To hear other health songs on obesity and exercise from Let's Move, a 2011 CD of the Year from Creative Child, click here.

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