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Liquid Candy: The Rise of Soft Drinks in America

Two weeks ago, I told you about mounting pressures on the American Beverage Association -- thanks to the epidemic of childhood obesity -- forcing the group to recommend limiting the availability of soft drinks in schools. There's certainly many more good reasons to keep kids away from soft drinks, as described so well in this awesome Los Angeles Times piece.

Let's start with the numbers. Carbonated drinks and juices were the leading source of calories in the diet of the average teenager -- ranging from 12-13 percent -- according to researchers at the University of Vermont. And, soft drinks were found to be the top source of added sugars, meaning the extra amounts put in many drinks and foods.

Possibly the scariest numbers of all that probably explain the explosion of the obesity epidemic in this country: The consumption of soft drinks in America has nearly doubled from 25.5 gallons annually in 1971 to more than 46 gallons just two years ago.

But eliminating temptations during the school day doesn't completely solve the problem, a Texas A&M professor of nutrition says, if parents make a quick side trip for a Big Gulp on the way home.

Fact is, preventing childhood obesity is far easier than treating it, which is why it's so important for parents to be good role models. If you aren't sure your child has a problem, I urge you to review the seven risk factors for childhood obesity.

Los Angeles Times September 5, 2005

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