Is drinking soda really that bad for you?

Story highlights

  • Sugar sweetened beverage consumption has increased significantly
  • Men consume on average 178 calories per day from sugar sweetened beverages
  • Soda often displaces more healthful items in the diet
Q: I've heard so much about the dangers of drinking soda. Is it really all that bad for you? Or is it just empty calories?
You may have heard about a new study published in the May issue of the American Journal of Nutrition that found an increased risk of stroke in people who consumed more than one soda per day.
These findings are not surprising in light of the growing body of evidence linking intake of sugar sweetened beverages -- of which soda makes up the largest percentage -- and diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and high cholesterol.
Sugar sweetened beverage consumption has increased significantly over the past several decades. Recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data found that half of the U.S. population consumes at least one sugar sweetened beverage on any given day. Men consume on average 178 calories per day from sugar sweetened beverages and women consume 103 calories per day.
Of particular concern in light of the current childhood obesity epidemic is the increased use in children, especially teens and young adults. Soda often displaces more healthful items in the diet and is a warning sign of a poor quality diet.
The dangers of soda extend beyond the increase in calories, although this is likely an important contributor to weight gain and obesity. Calories consumed in liquid form do not satisfy hunger as effectively as calories co