Sugary sodas: what you need to know

Sugary sodas: what you need to know

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The animation is quite eloquent. Four friendly bears look out to sea as they each drink a soda and the song “Sugar” by Jason Mraz plays. The animals continue to live their lives -always bottles in hand- while the advertisements that speak of happiness are happening and a series of unforeseen events also begins to take place: one of the clothes breaks due to excess weight, another grabs diabetes and one more seems to have an erectile problem. To make matters worse, some teeth fall out until the diabetic ends up losing his leg and only then, already in a wheelchair, does he go to the refrigerator, take a bottle and stand again in front of the sea, but this time to pour everything right there its content.

The author of the piece released in 2012 is former American publicist Alex Bogusky, who after years of working for brands like Burger King and Coca Cola became a fervent anti-soda militant. It was then that he created this short titled "The Real Bears", in which the huge mammals suggest an unequivocal reference to the polar bears that a few years ago became an icon of Coca Cola's advertising communication. "The message that needs to get through is that sodas can be very tasty, but they don't equal happiness," Bogusky explained as criticism rained down on him for switching sides after sucking for too long from the corporate tit.

The fact is that sodas and other sugary drinks are increasingly seen as responsible for the excess weight of the population. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) has added them to the group responsible for the growing obesity epidemic that affects a large part of the planet and has suggested the adoption of specific measures to discourage their consumption, such as the controversial idea of ​​raising them taxes by 20 percent.

San Francisco has been discussing for years the possibility that the packaging of sugary drinks include warnings about the risks of obesity and diabetes that their consumption can bring; while Mexico imposed a tax on "soft drinks" already in 2014 and in France therefill (unlimited filling) of these drinks in restaurants, hotels and catering services in general. Are sodas becoming the next tobacco?

Ultra-processed foods and sugary industrial beverages represent a growing share of what people in Latin America eat. And the results are very negative. The PAHO / WHO advisor on Nutrition and Physical Activity Enrique Jacoby explained that the problem is that these products are not designed to satisfy people's nutritional needs, but to be preserved for a long time and consumed even against rational desire. to stop eating or drinking. In other words, they serve the interests of the industry rather than those of consumers. "That is why they are doubly harmful: they are almost addictive, which leads to increasing overweight and obesity, while replacing fresh foods, which are the basis of a natural diet rich in nutrients," says the specialist.

However, due to these market returns, the consumption of soft drinks does not stop growing in these latitudes: the World School Health Survey showed that in our country half of adolescents between 13 and 15 years old consume two or more sugary drinks per day, While a report released in 2013 by the Euromonitor International consultancy assured that Argentina, with 131 liters per capita per year, is the main consumer of soft drinks in the world, generating fabulous profits for its manufacturers and for the population a serious health problem.

The era of excess

There are many studies that suggest that the consumption of sugary drinks increases the risk of obesity, diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome, some types of cancer and also osteoporosis. "The fructose present in these drinks is the monosaccharide that is attracting the most attention due to its detrimental effects in terms of weight gain and metabolic disorders," explains Verónica Risso Patrón, president of the Argentine Federation of Nutrition Graduates (FAGRAN). According to the specialist, juices have slightly less sugar than soft drinks (3 teaspoons per glass against 5.5 of the latter), although you always have to pay attention to the amount consumed and particularly to the presence of fructose in the form of corn syrup from high fructose and / or sucrose, which is what generates the non-satiety sensation through the metabolic pathway. "In synthesis - he concludes - the central problem is in the amount of sugar in these products."

It happens that it is more difficult for the body to recognize the calories that enter from the drink than those that come from solid foods, against which it responds with the well-known satiety signals. But since in nature there are practically no drinks that have so many calories, then the body lacks these mechanisms to realize if you consumed them in excess. In the case of children and adolescents, another important factor is added, and that is that sugary drinks are too available for them in meeting environments, which usually leads to a disproportionate intake.

We are eating a lot, and also drinking a lot. Product presentations are getting bigger and bigger, but consumers are not prepared to ingest all that they put in front of us. Sodas that used to be consumed only on special occasions are now drunk every day and almost anytime. Who then is in charge of setting the limit?

Specialists repeat that in addition to combating the consumption of soda, it is necessary to promote drinking more water. Risso Patrón is clear about it: “Water and more water,” she says. One could think of homemade drinks without added sugar such as lemonade, mate sweetened with fruit peel, teas sweetened with spices. But there is no better custom than to incorporate water ”. According to the nutritionist, the consumption of soda can, if necessary, be something exceptional, but there is no such thing as a minimum and maximum recommendation for its consumption. “It depends on the other foods eaten during the day, the moment, the characteristics of that person. What they do exist are maximum daily intakes of free sugars, which in adults is 50 grams: the equivalent of 12 teaspoons in total. And if we said that a glass of soda provides 5 and a half teaspoons we can quickly do the math, ”he warns.

What can we do?

For consumers, it is about attending to fluid intake, transforming water into a more available drink, leaving sugary drinks for occasional consumption and also limiting children's exposure to food industry advertising.

But the obesity epidemic is not only an individual responsibility but also a public health issue and a social problem. That is why there are a series of tasks that fall within the competence of governments, the scientific community and civil society organizations, such as implementing policies to promote healthy food choices, creating education campaigns, approving new regulations on prices, providing incentives to family farming, including fresh food in school lunch programs, and promoting skills in food preparation, in addition to setting strict limits on the marketing of junk food and drink for the youngest, all WTO recommendations.

From FAGRAN they also aim to prohibit the advertising of unhealthy foods and the sale of sugary drinks in schools (ensuring access to safe water in all of them), as well as the enactment of laws that impose taxes on soft drinks and other sugary drinks.

One of these drinks every now and then can be refreshing and tasty, but if it becomes a habit it becomes a problem. Without the need to get radical, there is still the option to inform yourself, reflect and know that happiness can be found in the most remote places, but never when uncovering a soda.

Cabal Magazine

Video: Using glucose tests to check diet soda authenticity (May 2022).