There’s Really Good News in This Sad Saga

December 17, 2013 in Foodland, Health, Nutrition, Weight Management by Joyce Bunderson

According to a Wells Fargo analysis published in October 2013, sales of regular sugar-sweetened soda dropped another 1.7% during the month of September. It seems that sluggish sales of sweetened soda have been reported quarter after quarter for Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper for quite a few years now. I’m trying to be compassionate for the stockholders of the mega soda companies, but I’m having difficulties – my crocodile tears are not consoling the shareholders. I want to be a compassionate individual, but my heart capacity for the liquid obesity tonic manufacturers is at least five sizes too small. A little too much public health information has already filled my heart.

The soda industry has identified this continuing trend and for some time has been looking for new beverages to replace their ‘poster child for obesity.’ In so doing they have done an absolutely amazing job of selling filtered water to us consumers for as much or more than they sell sugary soda. Control of marketing and distribution is a powerful tool to set and maintain prices. They have also been sending out trial products for some time, and a lot of them, including sugary juice, have been catching on.  Juice sounds sooo healthy, and indeed, it does have real nutrients, but the sugar rush and the calories present problems. Maybe they’ll come up with something that doesn’t deliver calories without nutrition. Trying to help the public ‘unlearn’ the sugary soda habit is hard, but as the recent studies show, some progress is being made. Getting the public to fully understand the obesity/sugary soda link and how it sneaks in calories without giving you a feeling of fullness is a problem that ranges from extremely difficult to practically impossible. The good news for these companies is that sales of water, juice and tea are rising. Heads up to our readers: true fruit juice, while nourishing, is concentrated calories and can raise your blood sugar rapidly without reducing how much food you will eat later. Some options to the concentrated calories of fruit juice are: (1) pour a few tablespoons of fruit juice or fruit nectar into a glass of iced water or sparkling water; (2) eat a whole piece of fruit and drink water with it; (3) if you must drink juice, keep your servings under the one-half cup size.

Here’s the good news: A North Dakota dietitian, Kerrie Hert, and others, analyzed National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data and discovered that as the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages has decreased, corresponding improvements have been observed in HDL (good cholesterol); decreases in C-reactive protein (a measure of inflammation) and LDL (bad cholesterol). So as the sugar-sweetened soda consumption has decreased the biological health markers have improved.

Decreasing consumption of sugary soda is not always easy, but it is worth the effort. I have faith that the big soda companies will find ways to make money, so I’ve wiped away my crocodile tears and allowed my public health heart to experience joy in this good news.