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1 in 4 teens consume at least one soda a day

Dominika Osmolska Psy.D.'s picture

The rate of consumption of soda among teens is going down, from 3 out of 4 in the 90’s and early 2000’s, to 1 in four today, according to a CDC study released today. More teens are drinking milk, water and fruit juice, to the pleasant surprise of researchers. Still, when other sugary drinks, like Gatorade, are also factored in, the rate is still closer to 3 out of 4.

The findings are encouraging in showing a decline in soda consumption because in the past, soda has been the number one source of sugar consumption, leading to alarming rates of childhood obesity and Type II Diabetes. Even if kids are drinking other sugary drinks, their total sugar intake should be going down by the reduction in soda. An important question for the research is to ask whether the kids have not simply replaced their soda drinks for other, more healthy-sounding, but equally sugary alternatives, such as sweetened iced teas, energy drinks and smoothies.

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Even though fruit juices were counted as the upside of the new findings, they ought still to be considered another variety of sugary drink. They provide very little nutrition but a comparable dose of empty calories to the soda can. Fruit juices, sodas and other sweetened beverages ought to be consumed only once in a while as a treat, not a daily staple, and certainly not instead of water. Fluid intake is important, but it should, as in other dietary areas, be done in as natural a state as possible. That means unprocessed, unadulterated, unsweetened water.

The problem of soda consumption used to be heavily blamed on schools, where ubiquitous vending machines dispensed them to the children’s fill. Many school districts responded by banning them, but the problem, it turns out, also lies with the home, where soda is still apparently routinely available.

Surprisingly, about 7 percent of teens consume one diet soda a day. Diet soda is often encouraged as an alternative to regular soda because it provides zero calories instead of the typical 240 in regular. Nevertheless, some studies suggest that diet soda may trigger a similar metabolic reaction to sugared soda, signaling the brain that sugar is being consumed. The message center in the brain then sends a signal to the pancreas to release insulin when it is not needed. Such mixed signals might eventually lead to a disordered appetite- and insulin response, which in turn can contribute to Type II Diabetes.