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If you’re looking for a scapegoat in the obesity epidemic, look no further than soda. It’s the single greatest caloric source in the world, accounting for somewhere between 11 and 19 percent of all the calories consumed worldwide. It’s cheap, addictive, and readily available, which generally means that it will take some willpower to avoid.

  1. Soda may cause cancer. According to a report in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, consuming two or more soft drinks per week increased the risk of developing pancreatic cancer by nearly twofold compared to individuals who did not consume soft drinks.
  2. It’s not just about calories. Calories grab headlines, but recent science is showing that diet soda users are still in the crosshairs. A 2005 study by the University of Texas Health Science Center showed that there’s a 41 percent increased risk of being obese—and a 65 percent increased risk of becoming overweight during the next 7 or 8 years—for every can of diet soda a person consumes in a day.
  3. It’s the water . . . and a lot more. Okay, so that was a beer slogan, but soda is also made up mainly of water, and when you’re slinging as much of it as they are, and you need to sling it cheap, sometimes you can’t help but run into problems with your supply chain. In India, Coca-Cola® has found itself in hot water, and not the kind they thought they were purchasing rights to. Two of their factories have been closed, but one continues to run amok. According to a report in The Ecologist, “They accuse the company of over-extracting groundwater, lowering the water tables and leaving farmers and the local community unable to dig deep enough to get to vital water supplies.”
  4. BPA: not just for water bottles anymore. A recent Canadian study has found that BPA exists “in the vast majority” of the soft drinks tested. Most of these were under the national limits set for toxicity, but some were not. And remember how much soda the average person consumes, meaning odds are most soda consumers are at some risk.
  5. Can convenience. It is easier to grab a can and run out the door.  Whether you consume diet or regular soda, you’re getting all of the genetically modified food you need and more, via high fructose corn syrup or aspartame. I know, there I go again with the cancer. But some people need to be shocked in order to take action. For me, seeing the Diet Coke® and Mentos® experiment was all I needed to swear off the stuff.
  6. Foreign news cares how much soda we sell in our schools. How bad is your country’s problem when the whole world is watching its daily actions? “Nearly one in three children and teenagers in the U.S. are overweight or obese and health experts say sugary drinks are part of the problem.” Yep, bad. The world is well aware of the problems soda is causing and is looking to us to lead. And we certainly are trying. Are you with the program?
  7. Diet?. When it comes to soda, treat the word “diet” as a slogan. “Those who drank one or       more soft drinks a day had a 31 percent greater risk of becoming obese.”
  8. Soda is the silent killer. A study out of the University of California, San Francisco, shows that soda has killed at least 6,000 Americans in the last decade.
  9. From ABC News: “The new analysis, presented Friday at the American Heart Association’s 50th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention, offers a picture of just how horrifying the damage done by excess consumption of sugary drinks can be.
  10. It’s the “real thing” . . . not exactly. Should having the number one caloric source in the world come from something that’s entirely manmade be a metaphor for a dying world? It doesn’t have to be this way. After all, there’s nothing in soda that we need. In fact, there’s nothing in soda that even comes from the earth except caffeine, and that’s optional. It’s a mixture of altered water (injected with carbon dioxide gas), artificial flavors (yes, “natural flavor” is artificial), artificial color, and phosphoric acid, along with its sole caloric source that is a by-product of genetically modified corn production and offers virtually no nutritional value. It’s about as real as The Thing.

For more from Latwanas, read her personal blog and follow her on twitter

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