Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Weight Control
Soft Drinks and Weight Gain
Molly Vetter, Dietetic Intern, University of Missouri
Candance Gabel, MS, RD, LD, Associate State Nutrition Specialist, University of Missouri
What causes weight gain? Skipping meals and gorging later in the day, eating out frequently, eating larger portions and drinking large amounts of non-diet soft drinks.
Drinking soda will not directly cause you to gain weight.
The flavor of soda makes it easy to drink too much. Ounce
per ounce, soda contains a high amount of sugar making a few
big gulps worth a lot of calories. One 12-ounce can of
regular (non-diet) soda contains about 150 calories, and one
20-ounce bottle, contains about 250 calories.
With soft drinks it is easy to consume many extra calories
in addition to regular meals and snacks. The fact is if you
eat more calories than your body needs, you will gain
weight. A study done at the University of Minnesota showed
that school-aged children who drank nine or more ounces of
soda a day consumed 300 more calories a day than those
children who didn't drink soda.
All of the calories in soda come from added sugar. The USDA recommends that for a healthy, balanced 2,200-calorie diet, 12 teaspoons of added sugar can be consumed per day. One can of non-diet soda contains 9 teaspoons of sugar. A 20-ounce bottle of soda contains 15 teaspoons of sugar! This exceeds the recommended limit for a whole day. Look at the following chart to see how soda compares to other foods that have added sugar.
|Type of Food||Amount
|Cookies, 2 medium||1|
|Doughnut, 1 medium||2|
|Frosted cake, 1/16th||6|
|Fruit pie, 1 med slice||6|
|Soda, can (12 oz)||9-11|
|Soda, bottle (20 oz)||15-18|
of drinking a can of soda, try eating your calories in the
form of food and see if you find it more satisfying. For the
amount of calories in one can of soda you could eat one of
the following nutritious choices:
- 2 cups of fresh pineapple
- 3 cups of watermelon
- 1½ bananas
- 3 large peaches
- 2 small oranges
- 3 kiwis
- 2 apples
- ½ cup ice cream
- 2 small pancakes
- 2½ graham cracker squares
- 2 slices of bread
- 1 medium bagel
- 1 English muffin
- 3 cups of popcorn
Soft drinks along with all other foods and beverages can fit into a healthy diet if used in moderation.
Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009