By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

We’ve all heard that there’s a dark side to our soda pop addiction.

Even though the habit is well embedded into our culture —  pre-packaged into lunch and dinner meals,  up-sized for movies and sporting events and  bargain priced at grocery stores — we know that sugary drinks are not healthful.

The Real Bears, a video about soda's dark side. See it below.

But what if all the news were bad? If soda had virtually no redeeming features?

The evidence against sugary drinks is growing by the week. Studies confirm that they contribute to diabetes and heart disease by fueling obesity, a major risk factor for those diseases.

Now add cancer to the list of obesity-related diseases. A  study from the University of Texas Health Center in Houston publishes today shows that obesity can help cancerous tumors grow faster by providing fat, or adipose tissue, to malignant tumors. That’s just scary.

Hold up, you say, a little soda never hurt anyone! True enough, but we’re not drinking a little soda, given the big-size cups out there and the ubiquity of sodas at restaurants, even schools.  (A 2012 Gallup poll found that 48 percent of Americans cop to drinking at least one soda a day, though the poll did not ask whether the respondents were drinking the sugar or faux sugar varieties.)

Another area of research suggests that we’re biologically primed to be easily sucked into the soda habit. That’s because somewhere way back in our evolutionary past we needed to seize sweets when they were available, though back then that meant vitamin-rich fruits.

Soda’s no more culpable here than other sweets, but what’s more available or cheaper?

Now let’s talk about how sugar can deliver a burst of energy. In this scenario, people may use soda as a cheap, calorie supplement to compensate for a missed breakfast or lack of sleep, and that can become a huge problem, pardon the pun.

Some science also points to “liquid sugar” as a key piece of the obesity puzzle, saying that soda sneaks past our satiety alarms unlike solid sweets, which would tell us to slow or stop our intake.

This theory maintains that we would have been better off if someone had just let us “eat cake” to satisfy our sweet cravings, in which case, the vast middle class might not have such a vast middle.

For the record, the soda companies acknowledge the obesity issue, but disagree with the idea that their product is especially insidious. Here’s a line from Coca-Cola’s statement on obesity: “People consume many different foods and beverages, so no one single food or beverage alone is responsible for people being overweight or obese. But all calories count, whatever food or beverage they come from, including those from our caloric beverages.”  You can read more on their positions at the Beverage Institute.

Yet, studies keep popping up suggesting that soda may be exerts a powerful force in weight gain. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, which commissioned the video I’ve embedded below, points to a recent study that found greater weight gain among the soda drinkers in the study pool.

Aside from the critical health issue, the manufacture of soda also has serious environmental ramifications. Plastic soda bottles contribute mightily to the waste stream around the world, with the majority still failing to find their way into recycling bins and far too many ending up in those gargantuan plastic gyres in the oceans. We didn’t have this problem when people simply drank water from their tap.

Soda manufacturing also claims natural water resources that would be better used for quality hydration and needed irrigation, especially in arid regions in developing nations where King Soda is scouring for new recruits.

Maybe we aren’t yet as serious as we could be about dealing with our soda habit.

The CSPI video, though, takes fearless aim at the issue. The video, by Alex Bogusky with music by Jason Mraz, is called The Real Bears. Critics will no doubt call it a real downer. But then, so is cancer.

Copyright © 2012 Green Right Now | Distributed by GRN Network