Super sweet soda is way too accessible – Commercial Appeal

I am standing at the kitchen counter and conducting a simple demonstration. In a tall glass of carbonated water, I begin to add teaspoons of sugar.

I put in one and then two teaspoons (this is what I add to my tea or coffee). Then I add three and then four teaspoons. I begin to feel uncomfortable. Then five, six, seven, eight and nine plus one half more teaspoon. In total, one can of 12 fluid ounce soda such as Coke or Pepsi has nine and a half teaspoons of sugar.

Looking at the white crystals dissipate, I think how for years I have been casually drinking a can of soda. And then I think how I can never again drink an entire 12-ounce can of soda.

Consider this:

One can has 9 and half teaspoons of sugar. One can has enough calories to meet one adult’s daily requirement for sugar. One can has 140 calories without any other nutrient, such as protein, fiber or vitamins. One can does little to quench the hunger or appetite, so calories are wasted. One can per day over one year adds 15 lbs. to one’s weight.

And yet on the plane when I am served a can — I drink it. Even in the hospital room and at a doctor’s meeting one 12-ounce can of soda is available, and patients and doctors grab it.

Drinking or not drinking a can of sugary soda is a personal decision. Each of us decides what type of life we wish to live, and what we wish to do for our health and wellness.

Offering and not offering a can of sugary soda is a decision that managers and executives make for those of us who are on the plane, in the hospital or at the supermarkets. Somehow many of us do not realize that someone made a conscious and sometimes strategic decision to place a can of soda on the food tray.

So it has been encouraging to see mini-soda cans — about 7.5 ounces with 90 calories (about 6 teaspoons) being served on patient trays and in doctor lounges.

Availability and nonavailability of a can of soda at a particular price is a public health policy decision. So, recently the Mexican government decided to take a bold step to fight the obesity epidemic. It added a 10 percent surcharge to bottlers or retailers on sugary drinks, thereby increasing the price of a can of soda. Did this make an impact?

Data crunched by University of North Carolina found a 6 percent decline in soda sales initially and then 12 percent by the end of the first year. It impacted the poorer segment of the population, who are afflicted the most with obesity.

This should not be news. When a surcharge was placed on cigarettes, the number of young smokers dipped significantly. Price pressures can impact choices and policymakers need to use it prudently.

In the end, such decisions can improve the health and wellbeing of our nation.

But the most transformative moment for me was adding teaspoon after teaspoon of sugar to a glass of water. So try it. One Saturday afternoon stand over the kitchen counter with a tall glass of water and add 9 and half teaspoons of sugar. I promise you, like me, you will never drink an entire can of 12-ounce soda again.

Source: Commercial Appeal

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