It really depends upon how much we like soft drinks, fruit drinks, energy drinks or any other type of sweetened caloric beverages before we can make a choice between our cravings and our cardiometabolic risk. Scientific research has shown a number of times in the past how much we have to be watchful of our caloric consumption, not just from the food we consume but also from the beverages we enjoy. Nurses’ Health Study has shown about 49% increase in the risk of coronary heart disease in women due to regular soft drink consumption. Nurses’ Health Study II has also shown a direct link between sweetened drinks and increased risk of diabetes, irrespective of total body weight. Framingham study has suggested a strong association between metabolic syndrome and soft drink intake. Another recent research study reported about 44% increased chances of getting diagnosed with metabolic syndrome if someone consumed one soft drink every day as compared to those who did not drink such sweetened caloric beverages frequently.
Unfortunately, there is a rising trend in the consumption of flavored and sweetened energy drinks, fruit drinks, vitamin water especially in United States and the intake of these beverages has tripled in last few years, which is now emerging as a major cause of obesity in children and also conditions like weight gain, insulin resistance and other cardiovascular risk factors in adults.
We have definitely seen some direct or indirect effects of the sweetened caloric drinks on our overall health and wellness. Several articles have been published in this direction, both scientific and in lay press; many research studies have identified statistically significant associations between soft drink consumption and increased body weight, diabetes and heart disease. There is no doubt about adverse and unhealthy effects of most of the sugar and fizzy drinks and I think there is no need for us to wait for further evidence to prove it again. It is time to do something about correcting the mistakes we have made so far.
All along we have been saying “We are what we eat”, but now it is all about “We are what we eat…and drink”. It is not very difficult to watch what we choose to drink when we think of healthy weight loss or just when we are thirsty. I remember my grandma sharing with me benefits of drinking water, green tea, pomegranate juice for several health reasons she could outline (all appearing non-scientific at the time) as she never went to school, but now when I think of those, I feel she knew much more science than most of us scientific pundits of today.
What are we waiting for? What more proofs do we need before we do something about this problem? Why are we debating on this subject for so long? We are becoming aware of what we eat, but should we also not be concerned about what we are drinking or what we are making our children drink? Let us create a better “Healthy Tomorrow” for our generations to follow.
Let us stop and make some intelligent choices about “drinking healthy” and let us appeal to manufacturers to make healthy drinks free of any harmful effects. At the same time, let us practice and educate ourselves about picking up the right drinks in order to prevent and manage any chronic diseases like metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease and other related conditions. Let us all work together.