This probably won’t shock anyone, but researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have found that consumption of soft drinks has shot up considerably over the past two decades.
“More adults are drinking sugar-sweetened beverages and, among those drinkers, consumption has increased,” said Sara N. Bleich, PhD, lead author of the study and assistant professor with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy and Management. “From 1988 to 2004, the percentage of sugar-sweetened beverage drinkers increased five percent. Per capita consumption of energy from sugar-sweetened beverages increased 46 kilocalories (kcal) per day, and daily sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among drinkers increased 6 ounces per day.”
The study also examined trends in sugar-sweetened beverage consumption by age, race/ethnicity and weight loss intention. Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption was highest among young adults (231-289 kcal/day), who consumed roughly 20 percent of their sugar-sweetened beverage calories at work, and lowest among the elderly (68-83 kcal/day). Among race/ethnicity groups, the percentage of sugar-sweetened beverage drinkers and per capita consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was highest among blacks followed by Mexican Americans. Overweight/obese adults who were trying to lose weight were less likely to drink sugar-sweetened beverages compared to those who were not, but they still consumed a considerable amount from 1999 to 2004 (278 kcal/day).
When I was in high school in the mid- to late 1980s, anyone walking around with a 64-ounce beverage cup would have to have purchased it at a joke shop like Spencer’s. Now, anyone can stroll out of a 7-11 carrying “Big Gulp” cups full of soda just that large, and no one even notices.
It’s galling that there are idiots running amok in this country howling about how there’s really no problem and pretending that the ugly rise in childhood obesity is harmless, rooted as often as not in some mysterious X-factor or rare disease such as Prader-Willi, or both. It is neither. Concomitant with this rise in sweetened-beverage intake has been a rise in Type II diabetes-like symptoms in kids as young as 10. It’s not a coincidence. It’s not harmless. And it’s not immodfiable.
Rather than propose that people need to accept these children just as they are and “celebrate diversity in body types” (code for “sit on our asses and pretend nothing’s wrong”) across the age spectrum, people need to realize that the critical considerations in this realm do not revolve around cosmetics or shame. Fat activists who want to stay fat themselves are one thing, but for them to project their denialism and emotionally laden opinions on a generation of ever-less-healthy kids is irresponsible to the extent that these blowhards need to be actively shouted down.