North Carolina Researchers Implicate Soft Drinks in Obesity Epidemic
Energy intake from the consumption of soft drinks in the United States increased some 135 percent between 1977 and 2001, according to a new study published in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Health. Data from the study were derived from three food surveys of more than 73,000 Americans that included age groups ranging from 2-year-olds to senior citizens. The study found that daily calories from soft drinks and fruit drinks nearly tripled between 1977 and 2001, rising from 2.8 percent to 7 percent of the total caloric intake in the daily diet. Overall, this amounted to a 278-calorie average daily increase. Young adults aged 19-39 reportedly drank the most soft drinks, boosting consumption from about 4 to almost 10 percent. Milk consumption over the same period, however, dropped. Overall, Americans derived 38 percent less of their daily calories from milk. The authors, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, were quoted as saying that “the obesity epidemic may be aggravated by the increase in sweetened beverage intake.” Barry Popkin and Samara Nielsen also noted that “little research has focused on the beneficial impacts of reduced soft drink and fruit drink intake. This would seem to be one of the simpler ways to reduce obesity in the United States.” See UNC News Release, September 16, 2004; CBS News.com, September 17, 2004.