August 10, 2014 |
Could the soda bubble have fizzed out? New research shows that Americans are swigging less of the beverage these days.
A recent Gallup poll finds that almost two-thirds of us avoid soda in our diets. That’s up from a decade ago, when half of us said we were trying to avoid soda. A big motivation may be the sugar factor. Gallup finds that slightly more than half of Americans say they’re trying to avoid sugar in their diets, and soda certainly has a lot of it. A can of Coke, for instance, has about 150 calories and 10 teaspoons of sugar.
“Over the past 30 years, Americans have steadily consumed more and more added sugars in their diets, which has contributed to the obesity epidemic,” the American Heart Association says. It recommends a limit of roughly six teaspoons a day for women and nine for men.
“Regardless of whether Americans are avoiding soda or not, the amount of added sugar in the diet still needs to be reduced,” says registered dietitian Staci Nix McIntosh, an assistant professor at the University of Utah. “The amount of sugar Americans consume, in general, is still excessively high,” she says.
“Drinking calories, especially in the form of sweetened beverages, is displacing otherwise nutrient-dense foods,” she notes.
The jury is out on whether diet soda is a good substitute for the sugary stuff. A new study in the journal Obesity finds that people trying to lose weight who drank diet soda instead of water were more successful. (It’s worth noting that the researchers got funding from a trade group that represents the soda industry.)
If plain water doesn’t quench your thirst, dress it up, McIntosh suggests. “You can always flavor water with lemon slices, mint leaves, cubes of watermelon, or other fruits to add flavor without adding a ton of unnecessary sugar.”