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The Amazing Statistics and Dangers of Soda Pop

Americans drink more soda pop than ever before:

These popular beverages account for more than a quarter of all drinks consumed in the Unites States.

More than 15 billion gallons were sold in 2000.

That works out to at least one 12-ounce can per day for every man, woman and child.

Kids are heavy consumers of soft drinks, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and they are guzzling soda pop at unprecedented rates. Carbonated soda pop provides more added sugar in a typical 2 year old toddlerís diet than cookies, candies and ice cream combined.

Fifty-six percent of 8 year olds down soft drinks daily, and a third of teenage boys drink at least three cans of soda pop per day. Not only are soft drinks widely available everywhere, from fast food restaurants to video stores, theyíre now sold in 60 percent of all public and private middle schools and high schools nationwide, according to the National Soft Drink Association.

Nearly everyone by now has heard the litany on the presumed health effects of soft drinks: obesity, tooth decay, caffeine dependence, and weakened bones.

But does drinking soda pop really cause those things?

To help separate fact from fiction, the health section reviewed the latest scientific findings and asked an array of experts on both sides of the debate to weigh in on the topic.


One every recent, independent, peer-reviewed study demonstrates a strong link between soda consumption and childhood obesity. Reporting in the Lancet, a British medical journal, a team of Harvard researchers presented the first evidence linking soft drink consumption to childhood obesity. They found that 12 year olds who drank soft drinks regularly were more likely to be overweight than those who didnít.

For each additional daily serving of sugar-sweetened soft drink consumed during the nearly two year study, the risk of obesity increased 1.6 times.

Obesity experts called the Harvard findings important and praised the study for being prospective. In other words, the Harvard researchers spent 19 months following the children, rather than capturing a snapshot of data from just one day. Itís considered statistically more valuable to conduct a study over a long period of time.

Researchers found that schoolchildren who drank soft drinks consumed almost 200 more calories per day than their counterparts who didnít down soft drinks. That finding helps support the notion that we donít compensate well for calories in liquid form.

Caffeine Dependence

The stimulant properties and dependence potential of caffeine in soda are well documented, as are their effects on children. Ever tried going without your usual cup of java on the weekend? If so, you may have experienced a splitting headache, a slight rise in blood pressure, irritabliity and maybe even some stomach problems.

These well-documented symptoms describe the typical withdrawal process suffered by about half of regular caffeine consumers who go without their usual dose. The soft drink industry agrees that caffeine causes the same effects in children as adults, but officials also note that there is wide variation in how people respond to caffeine. The simple solution, the industry says, to choose a soda pop that is caffeine-free. All big soda makers offer products with either low or no caffeine.

Okay, so most enlightened consumers already know that colas contain a fair amount of caffeine. It turns out to be 35 to 38 milligrams per 12 ounce can, or roughly 28 percent of the amount found in an 8 ounce cup of coffee. But few know that diet colas often pack a lot more caffeine.

A 12 ounce can of Diet Coke, for example, has about 42 milligrams of caffeine-seven more than the same amount of Coke Classic. A can of Pepsi One has about 56 milligrams of caffeine-18 milligrams more than both regular Pepsi and Diet Pepsi. Even harder to figure out is the caffeine distribution in other flavors of soda pop. Many brands of root beer contain no caffeine. An exception is Barqís, made by the Coca-Cola Co., which has 23 milligrams per 12 ounce can. Sprite, 7-Up and ginger ale are caffeine-free. But Mountain Dew and diet as well as regular Sunkist orange soda all pack caffeine.

Bone Weakening

Animal studies demonstrate that phosphorus, a common ingredient in soda, can deplete bones of calcium. And two recent human studies suggest that girls who drink more soda are more prone to broken bones. The industry denies that soda plays a role in bone weakening. Animal studies point to clear and consistent bone loss with the use of cola beverages.

Thereís been concern among the research community, public health officials and government agencies over the high phosphorus content in the US diet. Phosphorus-which occurs naturally in some foods and is used as an additive in many others-appears to weaken bones by promoting the loss of calcium. With less calcium available, the bones become more porous and prone to fracture. The soft drink industry argues that the phosphoric acid in soda pop contributes only about 2 percent of the phosphorus in the typical US diet with a 12 ounce can of soda pop averaging about 30 milligrams.

Thereís growing concern that even a few cans of soda today can be damaging when they are consumed during the peak bone-building years of childhood and adolescence. A 1996 study published in the Journal of Nutrition by the FDAís Office of Special Nutritionals noted that a pattern of high phosphorus/low calcium consumption, common in the American diet is not conducive to optimizing peak bone mass in young women.

A 1994 Harvard study of bone fractures in teenage athletes found a strong association between cola beverage consumption and bone fractures in 14-year old girls. The girls who drank cola were about five times more likely to suffer bone fractures than girls who didnít consume soda pop.

Besides, to many researchers, the combination of rising obesity and bone weakening has the potential to synergistically undermine future health.

Summarized from the Washington Post article by Sally Squires February 27, 2001

Quotes of the Week

"If money is your hope for independence you will never have it. The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience and abilility." Henry Ford

"Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Patient Testimonial

I just couldnít take it anymore! The six pack of diet coke, the coffee, pills, tums, pepto-bismol, the mood swings and now they want me to have another surgery! I had been to so many doctors, more tests, more prescriptions and my stomache! There had to be another way. I met Dr. Maloof at a speaking engagement. Her enthusiasm for health was eye opening. I went into to see Dr. Maloof and her treatments aligned and balanced out my body chemistry. I felt much improved with more energy naturally. She also had me take natural supplements to help me with my energy so that I donít need any artificial stimulants. From the moment I started seeing Dr. Maloof I have not had a coke, coffee and I am prescription free. I have never felt so great! Thank you Dr. Maloof, you are a blessing in my life. Debra

If you, a friend or family member would like a consultation please call my office and schedule a time.

Dr. Catherine Maloof
(949) 581-6543

You may view Dr. Maloofís website by clicking www.drmaloof.com

Dr. Maloof Online, ã 2002 

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