‘Pop’ular drinks loaded with sugar, calories

Marissa Mikolak

Sugary soft drinks are not the healthiest choice

Credit: Beth Rankin

The sun is rising and many students are beginning their day. This may consist of class, schoolwork, a job and other day-to-day activities.

By midday there may be a chance to grab a quick bite to eat.

Early evening may mean the end of the workday or time to start cracking the books for that dreaded summer class.

As the night progresses, many students are awake into the early hours of the morning studying, making deadlines, etc.

All of this can be a lot for one day, and some may choose to drink something with a little extra “kick” to it. These may be times when students crack open their favorite soft drink, which seems to occur quite frequently.

According to U.S. News & World Report, based on data collected in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, soft drinks and other sweetened beverages now contribute the largest number of calories among all food types in the diets of the more than two-thirds of Americans who drink them.

The amount of pop that is acceptable to drink on a daily basis is debatable.

“Anything more than one 12-ounce can is too much,” said Nancy Burzminski, assistant professor and diet internship director.

An other expert may be more lenient.

“More than two cans a day would be excessive for most people,” said Connie Nichols, clinical dietitian at Akron General Medical Center.

Either way, experts agree that soft drinks offer no nutritional value.

There are no nutrients and soft drinks consist of simple sugars and carbohydrates, Nichols said.

About one-third or more of a can of regular pop is sugar, Burzminski said.

Such high levels can be hazardous to people’s health. Sugary soft drinks may lead to weight issues, weight related problems, diabetes, heart problems, tooth decay and osteoporosis, Burzminski said.

And that’s not all.

High sugar content and related problems are only one of the possible health risks associated with soft drinks.

The phosphoric acid in pop throws off the calcium/phosphorous balance in our bodies, Nichols said. Calcium is pulled out of the bones and teeth when this imbalance occurs.

This is especially a problem for developing children and women, Nichols said.

Children need calcium to develop properly and calcium deficiency leads to osteoporosis in women.

Some students may be aware of the risks associated with high sugar levels and choose to drink diet soft drinks.

“I drink Diet Coke religiously,” senior nutrition major Supriya Surender said. “I drink it because it’s no calories, no sugar, so it’s better than regular Coke.”

Although Diet Coke is a healthier choice, it is still not the healthiest alternative. You still run the risk of a calcium/phosphorous imbalance, Nichols said.

Some students are choosing to eliminate soft drinks from their diets.

Junior undecided major John Hamulak eliminated soft drinks from his diet about five years ago.

Instead Hamulak drinks about eight glasses of water and two to three glasses of milk a day.

“This isn’t even about moderation, you just shouldn’t drink soft drinks,” Hamulak said.

So morning, midday or night, soft drinks may not be the best pick me up.

“It’s just not a healthy choice,” Burzminski said.

Contact medicine, mental health and religion reporter Marissa Mikolak at [email protected].