In March 2015, the World Health Organization strongly recommended reducing free sugar intake among children and adults. (Free sugars refer to monosaccharides such as glucose, fructose, and disaccharides such as sucrose or table sugar added to foods and drinks by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates. ) “We have solid evidence that keeping intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay,” says Dr. Francesco Branca, Director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development.
There is too much free sugar in the soda drink, one small can of soda contains around 10 teaspoons of sugar.
Other ingredients such as caffeine, phosphoric acid, artificial sweeteners which are commonly found in soda, all have the negative health impact on children and their impact is not limited to obesity and tooth decay.
1. Soda drink is addictive
The addictive properties of soda come from a number of its ingredients – caffeine and free sugar. According to a report published on Johns Hopkins Medicine, caffeine produces a physical dependence. Children are not immune to this dependence. Some researchers say the children are more susceptible to caffeine’s effects due to their smaller body weight.
Studies on free sugar had similar findings. Some soda drinks claim to have zero sugar. However, these drinks have artificial sweeteners like aspartame and acesulfame potassium. These artificial sweeteners may actually trick the brain into wanting more, leading to dependence.
These addictive properties are the greatest dangers of soda drink.
2. Soda is harming children’s brains
When children drink soda, they are consuming chemicals that are altering their brain. Traces of MSG (Monosodium glutamate) can be found in the citric acid of soda, as well as in the artificial flavors. MSG is an excitotoxin which has been shown to damage the neurons in the brain of mice in research.
Aspartame, used in diet sodas, is also a potent brain toxin.
3. Soda increases the risk of obesity among children
Sodas and other sweetened drinks are full of free sugar such as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Excess fructose consumption is a known cause of insulin resistance.
With excessive fructose in the bloodstream, the body has a hard time accessing the stored fat and the brain starts to think that it is hungry. This may make us eat more.
Fructose induces leptin resistance which can cause weight gain. Fructose causes a lower level of leptin, this again makes our brain think there is not enough energy stored and make us eat more.
A two-year study of 3-5 years old children had shown that the consumption of sugary beverages significantly increased the likelihood of childhood obesity.
4. Soda is contributing to childhood diabetes
Although the scientists are still unclear how soda can lead to diabetes, it is agreed that there is a link between soda and diabetes.
According to one study published in Contemporary Review in Cardiovascular Medicine, one single 12 ounces can of soda a day increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 22%.
“Consumption of free sugars, including products like sugary drinks, is a major factor in the global increase of people suffering from obesity and diabetes,” says Dr. Douglas Bettcher, Director of WHO’s Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable diseases.
5. Soda makes bones brittle
Phosphoric acid was added to soda to make it fizzy. When phosphate is absorbed into the bloodstream, it likes to pair up with calcium. It is estimated that a child can lose as much as 100 milligrams of calcium by drinking a bottle of soda. 100 milligrams of calcium is more than ten percent of their daily needs of calcium.
Caffeine is also commonly found in soda. Caffeine is known to interfere with the absorption of calcium. A study published in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine investigated the risks of colas in youth. The study found that drinking carbonated beverages was strongly associated with bone fractures in teenage girls
6. Soda is causing bad behavior
There are many possible reasons for behavior issues associated with drinking soda. It could be from the caffeine, sugar, artificial colors, or blood sugar spikes and drops. For example, caffeine in soda drink can cause a buzz to children’s brains. This can cause them to be hyperactive at the beginning, followed by a low with consequent mood swing in the rest of the day.
According to a survey that interviewed more than 3000 mothers, children who drank soda were more likely to display negative behavior such as being more aggressive, withdrawn, and having difficulty in paying attention.
7. Soda is bad for teeth
At any time, there is a lot of harmful bacteria in the mouth. These harmful oral bacteria feed on the sugar that your child consumes. These harmful bacteria produce acid that can destroy the tooth enamel. Tooth enamel is the shiny, protective outer layer of the tooth. If these harmful bacteria are not killed, they will cause cavities.
In addition, the citric acid and phosphorus in the soda also erode tooth enamel and lead to decay.
8. Soda can lead to heart disease
According to the Framingham Offspring Study, individuals who consumed more than 1 can of soda per day had a 22% higher incidence of hypertension.
The Nurses’ Health Study I and II, which monitored the health of about 90,000 women over two decades, found that women who drank more than two servings of soda drink each day had a 40 percent higher risk of heart attacks or death from heart disease than women who rarely drank sugary beverages
Considering the addictive nature of soda drink, children who begin drinking soda are more likely to consume it regularly. Over the span of their lifetime, they will consume far more soda than someone who began drinking it in adulthood. This will increase the risks of heart disease tremendously.
Considering all these negative health impacts of soda, parents are encouraged to substitute soda with healthy drink such as water, milk or fruit juice (make sure the manufactures does not add sugar)