Exactly what amount is bad for you? How bad? What are the chances these things will happen to you? In the wake of the Big Soda tax in Berkeley, maybe we’re all a little closer to taking a good, hard look at why our fizzy friend is actually a back stabber.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health sheds some light on one of the lesser know side effects of regular soda consumption (you know, that daily 3pm habit you have). As cells divide, telomeres—the buffers at the end of chromosomes that protect genes—naturally shorten, a process related to aging and age-related diseases. This new study found that sugar-sweetened sodas consumed once a day (in a 12-ounce serving) was associated with telomere shortness, a precursor to chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Across the 5,309 U.S. participants—who represented a range of ages, races, income brackets and education levels—the results were the same: sugar-sweetened sodas increase cell aging (senescence) the same amount as smoking. Further studies have to be done to see if the effects are the same in children as in adults, but if you’re ready to give it up, we suggest switching to plain carbonated water that you can flavor with fresh fruit slices or a splash of natural juice (without added sugars). Note: Association in a study is not equivalent to causation. Further studies need to be done on this subject and Eat This, Not That! is tracking updates closely.