From NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: It’s hard
to overeat without noticing it. By contrast, soda and other
sugar-sweetened beverages can sneak up on you, adding hundreds of
calories to your diet each day without ever filling you up. In a new
effort to highlight the health impact of sweetened drinks, the Health
Department is confronting New Yorkers with a bold question: Are you
pouring on the pounds? The agency’s new public-awareness campaign,
which includes posters in the subway system and a multilingual Health
Bulletin, goes live today and will run for three months.
campaign’s signature image – in which a bottle of soda, “sports” drink
or sweetened iced tea turns to a blob of fat as it reaches the glass –
is s a stark reminder of how these products can lead to obesity and
related health problems. The ads urge New Yorkers to cut back on sugary
beverages and quench their thirst with water, seltzer or low-fat milk
instead. Many people may stir a teaspoon or two of sugar into their
coffee, but few realize that a 20-ounce bottle of soda can contain 16 ½
teaspoons of sugar.
“Sugary drinks shouldn’t be a part of our everyday diet,” said New
York City Health Commissioner Thomas A. Farley. “Drinking beverages
loaded with sugars increases the risk of obesity and associated
problems, particularly diabetes but also heart disease, stroke,
arthritis and cancer.”
On average, Americans now consume 200 to 300 more calories each day
than we did 30 years ago. Nearly half of these extra calories come from
sugar-sweetened drinks. When Health Department researchers surveyed
adult New Yorkers about their consumption of soda and other sweetened
drinks, the findings showed that more than 2 million drink at least one
sugar-sweetened soda or other sweetened beverage each day – at as much
as 250 calories a pop. Daily consumption was highest among Bronx
residents, followed by residents of Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and
Manhattan. Sweetened-beverage consumption is higher among men than
among women, and especially prevalent among 18- to 44-year-olds and
among adult blacks and Hispanics.
Like Bronx adults, Bronx teens reported high intake of sugary
drinks. When public high school students were asked whether they drank
at least one soda a day over the course of a week, the proportion
answering “yes” was 29% in the Bronx, followed by Staten Island (25%),
Queens (23%), Brooklyn (22%) and Manhattan (21%). Teens who drink
sugary beverages get an average of 360 calories from them each day – an
amount they would have to walk 70 city blocks to burn.
Rethink Your Drink
no secret that soft drinks have gotten bigger over the years. Soda used
to come in 6.5-ounce bottles. Today, 12-ounce cans are considered small
and 20-ounce bottles are typical. A single super-sized soda can pack as
many calories as three to four regular cans of soda.
Fruit juice is more nutritious than soda, and rarely consumed in
such large portions, but it is just as rich in calories. Whole fruit
has fewer calories and has plenty of fiber.
The Health Department advises parents not to serve their kids punch,
fruit-flavored drinks or “sports” and “energy” drinks. Most of them are
low in nutrients and high in empty calories. The best way to stay
hydrated while exercising is to drink water. Coffee and tea drinks also
pack more calories than many consumers realize. New Yorkers are often
surprised when they see how many calories are listed on menu boards for
these popular drinks.
The Health Department recommends these simple strategies to avoid
pouring on the pounds: If you drink coffee or tea, order it plain and
flavor it yourself. If you order a sugar-sweetened beverage, ask for a
“small.” When you shop for beverages, read the labels and choose
products with fewer than 25 calories per 8-ounce serving. And if you
enjoy sugar-sweetened beverages, make them an occasional treat and not
a daily staple.
“When people count calories, they too often forget to include the
liquid ones, said Cathy Nonas, director of the Health Department’s
Physical Activity and Nutrition Programs. “We need to start thinking of
the sugar in sweetened drinks as unwanted, wasted calories. These
calories provide no nutritional benefits and can lead to weight gain.
Water and other zero-calorie beverages are a better choice.”
Data on the consumption of soda and sweetened-beverages comes from
the Health Department’s 2007 Community Health Survey and Youth Risk
Behavior Survey. For more information, New Yorkers can go to www.nyc.gov/health/obesity or call 311.