Are sodas, or soft drinks, O.K. to drink?

Sodas are responsible for a surprising number of calories in the average American’s diet. One study found that Americans drink an average 67,000 calories worth of soda a day! Just 6 oz. of root beer or 7-up contain about 100 calories.

Another study, published in Lancet in March 2001, found that “for every additional serving per day of soft drink consumed, the risk of becoming obese increased by about 50 percent,” researcher David Ludwig of Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, told Reuters. The Boston researchers studied 548 children with an average age of 11 in four Massachusetts communities. They monitored the kids’ intake of sugary drinks like soda, sweetened tea and fruit drinks, and noted changes in their Body Mass Index, or BMI, a measure of body fat. Even when they accounted for factors like physical activity and other diet choices, the relation between obesity and drinking sodas remained, Ludwig said.

Ludwig and his colleagues found that 57 percent of the children in the study had increased their daily intake of soft drinks, many by nearly a full serving. Boys drank the most soda. “The average teen-ager is getting 15 to 20 teaspoons a day of added sugar from soft drinks alone,” Ludwig said. “Consumption rates among children have doubled in the last decade.” Indeed, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that American teens drink twice as much carbonated soda as milk. And that can lead to another problem: calcium deficiency. A study in the February 2001 issue of the Journal of Nutrition found that girls who drank more sodas got less calcium in their diets — a situation that could lead to osteoporosis later in life.