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Soda falling flat: Sugary drinks singled out for health risks

February 19. 2013 3:51PM
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Here are some things top nutritionists and dietitians want you to think about before you reach for that soda or sweet drink:

Swear off the sugar, not the bubbles: Soda is not the only culprit, said Andrea Giancoli, a dietitian based in Hermosa Beach, Calif., who is a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Watch out, she said, for fruit drinks, bottled iced teas, energy drinks. Some of these drinks can have as much sugar — or more — than soda.

Don't supersize it: Once upon a time, a 12-ounce serving of soda was considered enough. Now, as Nestle notes, even the small soda at the movie theater is pretty darn big. People are not getting 20-ounce sodas, they're getting 40-ounce sodas that can have the same amount of calories as a meal, said Michelle Dudash, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based registered dietitian, author and nutritionist.

Diabetes and heart disease: Papa Bear's travails vividly connect soda drinking to being overweight to eventually getting diabetes. The film cites a 2010 article in the journal Diabetes Care, which reported drinking one or two sugary drinks a day can increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 25 percent. The other concern, Giancoli said, is heart disease. Metabolic syndrome, a precursor to heart disease, is a cluster of symptoms - obesity, high blood sugar, hypertension, high triglycerides and low levels of so-called good cholesterol - that can, if not caught in time, lead to both cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes in people who don't have diabetes already.

Tooth decay: Phosphoric acid gives soda that zippy taste, Dudash said. But that acid can also be corrosive to the protective enamel found on your teeth; decay results.

Wean kids off soda, sugary drinks: Soft drinks of any kind do not belong in young children's diets, declared Tina Ruggiero, a registered dietitian in Tierra Verde, Fla. Growing bodies and minds need lots of nutrients.

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