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A Sweet Dilemma: Drinking Soda Offers Health Risks

Posted on 3/6/2014 by Tigard Family Dental
Several people tapping glasses of soda in glassesWhile a number of things we regularly put into our bodies can negatively impact our long-term health, few foods or beverages offer the kind of lasting damage that occurs from drinking soda.

High consumption of sugary beverages is one of the main contributing factors of obesity in the U.S., according to the Harvard School of Public Health, and why two out of every three adults in the country qualifies as being either overweight or obese. When you look at what each bottle of soda contains, it's easy to understand why so many Americans struggle with their weight.

Heavy on Flavor & Sugar

A typical 20-ounce bottle of soda contains between 15 to 18 teaspoons of sugar – the U.S. Department of Agriculture's daily recommended allowance for sugar is between five and eight tablespoons – and around 240 or more calories. A "Big Gulp," or 64-ounce fountain drink, can contain up to 700 calories, over one-third of an average adults recommended daily calorie intake.

Even more troubling, studies have shown that individuals who consume soda throughout the day feel less full than if they had consumed an equal number of calories from solid food. This often leads soda drinkers to consume more calories daily, ultimately gaining weight in the end.

As if causing weight gain wasn't enough, recent research has shown that soft drinks ranks as one of the biggest dietary sources of tooth decay, affecting individuals of all ages. All types of soft drinks, including diet varieties, contain acids and acidic sugar byproducts that soften the hard outer shell of your teeth known as enamel. Weakened tooth enamel struggles to prevent harmful bacteria from entering the delicate center of your tooth, and greatly increases your risk of decay.

In some extreme cases, the development of softer tooth enamel combined with poor brushing techniques, teeth grinding and other issues can lead to tooth loss.

Consumption Going Up

Despite the risks involved with drinking too much soda, the quantity and size of soft drinks has dramatically increased over the last 40 years, and more kids and adults are drinking soda than ever before.

Before the 1950s, the standard size of a bottle of soda was 6.5 ounces. During the boom years of the 50s, soft drink manufacturers increased the size of an individual soda can to the familiar 12 ounces, which became the standard by the 1960s. By the 1990s, the 20-ounce bottle was replacing the soda can, and today shoppers can even buy sizes that reach beyond 42 ounces.

Not surprisingly, as the size of soda containers has risen, so too has the number of calories the average American receives from the beverage daily. In the 70s, soda consumption was responsible for roughly four percent of the average American's daily calories intake; in 2001, that number had increased to nearly nine percent.

The number of daily calories being consumed from drinking soda is even higher among U.S. children who receive an average of 224 calories a day from soda consumption, nearly 11 percent of their daily recommended intake.

Long-Term Health Risks

In addition to weight gain and tooth decay, studies have shown that regular consumption of soft drinks can increased an individual's risk for several chronic health problems.

Individuals who drink soda regularly – one to two or more cans daily – have a 26 percent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes when compared to individuals who rarely drink soda. This risk becomes even greater for Asians and young adults who drink soda.

Other studies have shown that individuals with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of suffering from gum disease. Advanced gum disease, or periodontal disease, ranks as the leading cause of adult tooth loss. Studies have also shown that heavy soda consumption increases an individual's risk of heart disease, as well.

So the next time you reach for a bottle of soda to satisfy your thirst, consider what that bottle represents not only to the health of your teeth, but to the rest of your body as well. Call your favorite dentist in King City and Tigard today if you have any questions.
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