BOSTON, MA — Over the past 20 years or so, Americans have developed
quite the sweet tooth, with an annual consumption of sweeteners at
about 100 pounds per person. During these same years, many more
Americans-particularly children-have become overweight and obese. Added
sweeteners, such as high-fructose corn syrup, may be one of the major
reasons, says the October 2006 issue of the Harvard Health Letter.
added to sports beverages and juice drinks are particularly troubling
because many people think those drinks are healthful. But studies have
shown that people don't cut back on their overall calorie intake to
offset the extra calories from such beverages. Researchers are
beginning to document the adverse health outcomes. Harvard researchers
recently reported that women who drank one or more sugar-sweetened soft
drinks per day were 83% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than
women who drank less than one a month. Not surprisingly, they were also
more likely to gain weight.
The Harvard Health Letter
notes that one of the problems with sweetened beverages is that they
are watery. High-calorie drinks that are low-viscosity (thin) may
deceive us by preventing our bodies from "reading" calories, a capacity
that depends, in part, on the thickness of a liquid.
March 2006, the Beverage Guidance Panel issued a proposed "guidance
system for beverage consumption." The six-level system emphasizes
beverages with no or few calories-especially water-over those with more
calories. It also recommends drinking no more than 8 fluid ounces of
sweetened sodas, juice drinks, or energy/sports drinks per day.