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The sweet secret about soda, sugar, and obesity

Posted by Joan Salge Blake  June 24, 2012 02:19 PM

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In an attempt to harness Americans’ obesity epidemic, the banning or taxing of sugary beverages has become the talk of the town.  New York City Mayor Bloomberg made headlines by proposing to restrict the sale of gigantic sizes of soda available in the Big Apple.  Last week, the American Medical Association voted on a policy which recommended that if sweetened beverages were to be taxed that the levy should be used to fund anti-obesity programs and educational campaigns about the adverse health effects of overindulging these beverages.

While soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks collectively make up the largest category of contributors of added sugars in the American diet, they aren’t the sole source.  According to the USDA, the other major sugary culprits are grain-based desserts (cookies, cakes, pastries, pies, donuts) and fruit drinks (lemonade, fruit drinks).  Ironically, using a pie chart, here is the USDA’s visual breakdown of where added sugars are coming from in the American diet:

Source: USDA, Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010
According to the USDA, the top source of calories among Americans is grain-based desserts. (Sweetened beverages were either third or fourth on the calorie list depending upon the age of the consumer.)  Americans are consuming, on average, approximately 140 calories of bakery treats daily.  

While it makes sense to reduce the amount of sugary beverages that you consume daily, you may want to also think about restricting the amount and frequency of bakery sweets that you are reaching for on a regular basis.  Cutting back on cookies, cake, and donuts will not only cutback on added sugars but also calories from fat in your diet.  Cutting back on overall dietary calories is a must to lose body weight. 

Skip the slice of high calorie apple pie and reach for a lower calorie sweet apple instead. 

                                          Follow Joan on Twitter at: joansalgeblake
Originally published on the blog Nutrition and You!.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, LDN, is a clinical associate professor and registered dietitian at Boston University in the Nutrition Program. Joan is the author of Nutrition &You, 2nd Edition, More »

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