Soda and other sugary beverages are even worse for us than we thought. Can we kick the habit?
In public health circles, it’s often called the low-hanging fruit. If people could just kick the sugar-sweetened beverage habit, it would make a huge dent in the number of empty calories they consume. Sugary drinks often have no nutrients other than sugar, so it’s a simple cut-it-out message that even kids can understand—no fussing with fiber grams or glycemic index rankings, no shopping for fruits and vegetables.
Public health officials have been banging the drum against sugar-sweetened beverages for years, and over the last decade, people seem to have started listening. Sales of soda, by far the biggest conduit of liquid sugar in the American diet, are declining. Sugared soda sales have dropped by more than a quarter since the late 1990s. A recent Gallup poll found 61 percent of Americans are actively trying to avoid soda, a big change from the 41 percent in 2002.