Soda Isn't the Problem, A Lack of Self Discipline Is

samclaire's picture

When New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a ban on large sugary drinks earlier this year it caused a minor local uproar, that soon became a media frenzy, which eventually escalated into a global conversation. Aside from the hefty legal dilemma (is it a violation of constitutional rights for any government entity to tell us what we can and can’t consume?), the health question is a no brainer.

How Unhealthy is it?

Without exception, soda is always a bad choice. Sorry caffeine lovers, there’s no way around the facts. A widely cited study, lead by the Harvard School of Public Health and published in The New England Journal of Medicine has linked heavy soda consumption to increased rates of obesity. If it seems like the world is soda obsessed it may be because consumption has more than doubled since 1977 and shows no signs of slowing down. 

As for Bloomberg, he couldn’t have chosen a more timely target. Soda is an easy enemy to pick on, perhaps because not only is it harmful (high fructose corn syrup in all its infamous glory is never kind to the liver), but also because it delivers zero tangible benefits. Some natural foods, such as apples, have sugar, but don’t overload the body and force the liver to convert extra sugar over to fat. Cola, sports drinks, and a number of store bought juices are notorious for being little more than sugary water. But come on, is anyone all that shocked? ANY item (cake, alcohol, certain types of canned goods, etc...) that’s high in sugar is unhealthy if consumed regularly.

The sad thing about all this is that the trouble isn’t soda, which is just one of many harmful items on a large list, but rather a growing lack of discipline amongst consumers. Just because an item is on the market, doesn’t mean the public has to purchase it. It’s the people, not corporations, marketing campaigns, or clever product placements, who dictate what is and what isn’t popular. Taking soda out of fast food restaurants has only a minor benefit considering that fast food on its own is usually grossly unhealthy to begin with. At some point personal accountability has to come into play.

Moderation is Key

Losing weight can be a sticky subject because there are no shortage of opinions, diets, and proposed methods available to test out, live by, and/or scrutinize. You’re trying to diet and it can be hard at times. I get it. We’ve all been there. Amidst all the options however, much of keeping off the pounds comes down to common sense and having the gumption to know when to say enough is enough. Should I drink soda every day? Probably not. Can I have a soda once in a great while? Sure, go for it. It’s OK, just don’t make it a habit.

Good dieting starts and ends with discipline. If sugary beverages are too much of a temptation, then A) find alternative choices, B) scale down your consumption, and/or C) keep them out of your household (out of sight, out of mind). Playing the blame game and pointing the finger at food establishments, be it in New York or elsewhere, isn’t going to fix the growing obesity epidemic. Real change won’t begin to happen until people on an individual level, you, me, and everyone who steps on a scale in the morning, or opts to take the stairs instead of the elevator, starts wising up and owning their personal responsibility for health and wellbeing. Like it or not, there is no other way

Photo courtesy of Antonio Rodriguez

Sam is a health and nutrition enthusiast who is a part of eclaireMD, a team of engineers and doctors who are busy building a diabetes tracker application. 

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