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Empty Promises: The Skinny on Soft Drinks

Empty Promises:
The Skinny on Soft Drinks

Do I drink too much?
Are soft drinks bad for me?
Can soft drinks stain my teeth?
Do all soft drinks contain caffeine?
Are soft drinks OK after my workout?
Do soft drinks have a lot of calories?

Do I drink too much?
Sure, soft drinks are fun to drink and they taste good. In the United States, people drink 15 billion gallons of soda a year. They are especially popular with teens—25 percent of adolescents drink more than two cans of pop per day. For most girls, there's no reason to go cold turkey and give up your favorite fizz. But, whether you call it pop, soda, or tonic, drinking too much can be a problem. back to top

Are soft drinks bad for me?
If you choose a soft drink nearly every time you open the refrigerator or go to a vending machine, you're bound to miss out on the crucial nutrients contained in healthier drinks like low-fat milk or fruit juice. Girls who only drink soda may not get enough calcium (which is especially important during puberty), riboflavin, vitamins A and C, and folate. Going without those nutrients could lead to tooth decay, obesity, and bone fractures. back to top

Can soft drinks stain my teeth?
Yes, beverages like colas (and coffee and tea) can stain your teeth. If your pearly whites aren't looking bright, you may need to cut back on your cola consumption. back to top

Do all soft drinks contain caffeine?
Around 70 percent of the soft drinks consumed in the United States contain caffeine. Even some noncolas contain caffeine. The soft drink companies say that caffeine adds to the taste. But a recent study shows that most people can't taste the difference between soda with and without caffeine. Since caffeine is a stimulant, it may cause some people to become addicted to drinking soda pop. back to top

Are soft drinks OK after my workout?
Here's another reason to be wary of caffeinated soda. Suppose you've been running, the sweat is pouring down your face, and you're looking forward to an ice cold soda. Better think again if that soda contains caffeine! Caffeine can act as a diuretic, which means is causes your body to lose water. That's the last thing you need after a workout! So, when it's hot out or you've been working up a sweat, be sure to choose a beverage without caffeine. Opt for water, a sports drink, or juice. If it's got to be soda, make it decaffeinated. back to top

Do soft drinks have a lot of calories?
One regular soda has about 140 to 200 calories per 12-ounce can, depending on the type of soda. In general, calories aren't the enemy when they deliver nutrients your body can use. But the calories in soda come from sugar, which is missing the vitamins, minerals, and fiber found in fruit juices and some other beverages. That's why calories from sugar are called "empty" calories. Diet soda is a low-calorie or no-calorie alternative that uses artificial sweeteners instead of sugar. Some girls who have diabetes enjoy the occasional soft drink without a problem thanks to those artificial sweeteners. They contain no (or almost no) calories. On the other hand, they do not provide your body with energy. And some people believe the sweetener called saccharin is not safe to eat in large quantities. If you drink a lot of diet soda, maybe it's time to reach for a glass of water. back to top

Last Modified Date: 12/19/2000
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