The number of calories that soda contributes to our daily intake is a hotly debated topic. Soft-drink manufacturers don't believe that soda should be singled out in relation to the nation's obesity, and critics argue that Americans are slowly drinking themselves into a world of motorized scooters.
The Center for a Livable Future (CLF) recently took issue with an argument from Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent that only 5.5 percent of our daily caloric intake comes from soda -- a statistic attributed to the National Cancer Institute -- as part of his editorial in The Wall Street Journal this month on why exercise is a better health care strategy than taxation. The CLF cites a study from the University of California-Berkeley that suggests soda actually accounts for up to 7.1 percent of our caloric intake.
Regardless of which study you choose, the average
person is drinking a can of soda a day. A Dr Pepper (chosen for
convenience purposes only) has 150 calories in a can -- roughly
equivalent to a plain bagel (170 calories), two ounces of Swiss cheese
(190 calories) or two apples (about 160 calories).
To single out one product based on the perception that it is the root
cause of an entire issue seems to be an oversimplification,
particularly if the argument is grounded in caloric intake. If the talk veers toward nutritional value or ingredients, then we have a
debate on our hands.
It feels like we go around the argument on soda and obesity every
decade. In the '80s, it was the introduction of diet soda (Diet Coke
debuted in 1983) in an effort to piggyback on the health craze. In the
'90s, it was soda machines in schools that were the problem. And this
year, the idea of a soda tax to pay for health care has been debated in Congress.
Maybe it's time we started looking at the hand clutching the can rather than the can in the hand.
[Image via Flickr: roadside pictures]