by Angela Sams
What is your daily beverage of choice — do you guzzle water throughout the day, or prefer a soda with every meal? If you chose the former, then you are part of a growing trend that has many Americans sipping from their water bottles rather than going to the vending machine for a Coke. According to a recent New York Times article, soda is the new “toxic product to be banned, taxed and stigmatized,” similar to tobacco decades ago. While soda consumption boomed from 1960-1990, the last twenty years have seen a dramatic shift, with U.S. sales of full-calorie soda decreasing by more than 25%. The popular replacement? Bottled water.
The decline is most obvious among the affluent, white population, but will likely spread to the poorer minorities in society, as time goes on. The change is evident among younger generations, as well. Children are consuming fewer calories from sugary beverages, and an overall decrease in kids’ calorie consumption has brought some positive news with it—school-age children’s obesity rates are leveling off. Habits are established at a young age, so the fact that today’s kids aren’t turning to soda as their drink of choice means that they are less likely to suddenly start drinking it consistently as adults.
Why the sudden decrease in consumption? This can be attributed to a shift towards a healthier lifestyle and a desire to eat and drink better. Additionally, the media has helped draw attention to anti-obesity campaigners and proposed soda taxes. Though it may be difficult for officials to pass such a tax, the recent publicity around the debate is still causing people to think twice before popping open carbonated, sugary drinks.
Obviously, this creates a challenge for beverage companies, and they have responded by advertising that their drinks contain “real sugar” and by reducing the size of the cans to 7.5 oz. Even diet soda is taking a hit, as consumers are starting to become wary of artificial ingredients.
While drinking soda every once in a while is not likely to cause any major health problems, it is important to remember that one can may contain at least 17 teaspoons of sugar. This time around, following societal trends has far-reaching health benefits. Let’s raise a glass of water and toast to that!
To read more, check out this recent New York Times article.