Fat in a Bottle
There is growing evidence that the calorie cause of American women's problem with their expanding waistlines can found, in part, in bottles - bottles of sweetened drinks, that is. Soda, fruit juice, and other sweetened drinks are contributing a large part of the excess calories many Americans eat, and are thereby contributing directly to the obesity epidemic in America. Most of these drinks contain more than 150 calories per 12 ounce bottle, and many contain more than a dozen teaspoons of sugar per bottle.
A recent study of thousands of women followed over 8 years found that drinking 1 or more sodas or other sugar-sweetened drinks per day significantly increased a woman's chances of becoming overweight. The study, published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association, also found that a women who drink more than one non-diet soda per day had a risk of developing Type 2 diabetes 80% higher than women who drank fewer than one non-diet soda per day. The increased risk seems to be related to the impact on weight. Consumption of fruit juices, while increasing risk of weight gain, did not seem to increase the risk of developing diabetes, according to the study.
Few women realize that each additional sweetened drink per day is potentially a slow, insidious way to add a lot of pounds. One non-diet soda per day that is not burned off by activity can add 15 pounds of weight gain in a year, up to thirty pounds in two years. In addition, consuming highly sugared drinks does not lead to us eating less of other foods - we eat as much of them as we would have without stomach full of sugared drink. That can make the sugared drink additional calories to those we are already eating, and if a person is already gaining weight because they are eating too many calories and exercising too little, the drink calories can be a big added boost to the rate of weight gain.
Fruit juices are part of the problem - we tend to think of them as healthy drinks and they can be, but fruit juice often have the same amount of calories as soda. A typical bottle of Minute Maid Apple Juice, for example, has about 15 ounces of juice and contains about 200 calories. That is about the same as a typical soda. Recognition of this fact is especially important for parents and those trying to watch their weight, because they tend to think fruit juice is healthier and fail to understand the potential contribution of that 'healthy' drink to an unhealthy weight. A child drinking two 8 ounce cups of juice per day, for example, is consuming calories equivalent to about 23 pounds per year.
Part of the problem is that sugared drink labels are often confusing because the calorie number on them is the number of calories in an 8 ounce serving, but the bottle is usually 2 or 2 1/2 servings. For example, a 20 ounce bottle of the new Coca-Cola C2 - the new lower calorie version of Coke - says "Calories 45." It looks as though there are 45 calories in the bottle. But in smaller type above the "Calories 45" is the information that this is the amount of calories in an 8 ounce serving and the whole bottle actually contains 2 1/2 servings. That means there are really about 110 calories in that 20 ounce bottle. The bottle of Nestea Raspberry Iced Tea does the same thing: "Calories 80" it says in bolded print. Above that in smaller, plain print is "Serv. size 8 fl. oz, Servings per Container 2". That means the bottle contains 160 calories, and that is what you are consuming when, as most of us do, you drink the whole bottle.
None of this means that sodas or fruit juices are bad in and of themselves. Their potential negative health impact comes when they are not consumed in moderation, and especially if those many calories per bottle are not in turned burned of by activity and exercise. The JAMA study would seem to suggest, however, that the prudent woman, and the prudent parent, limit non-diet soda and juice consumption to a maximum 12 ounces - about two cups or one regular bottle - per day.