The Garden City Telegram

Pop cap — Health issues bubble up due to soda consumption

In a nation that loves its soda pop, it's often difficult to convince consumers of health issues linked to the refreshing beverages.

Count Kansas Action for Children (KAC) among organizations eager to encourage people of all ages to think about passing on pop — or, at least cutting back — due to health-related concerns.

The KAC set out to sign up Kansans who would pledge to Pass on Pop on Sundays as a way to drink less soda pop. Sundays, the KAC noted, are good days to make changes as a family or community.

The Pass on Pop initiative also was to be a focus during Safe Kids Day today in Topeka.

While KAC focuses on policies that improve quality of life for children, the nonprofit group's Pass on Pop campaign should hit home with Kansans of all ages.

All food and drinks with added sugar should be consumed in moderation. Unlike sweet foods high in calories, sugary drinks are packed with calories but don't satisfy hunger, which means regular or diet soda often lead consumers to crave more sweets.

Sugary soft drinks are loaded with 140 calories, and even more when drinks are super-sized. And, an average 12-ounce can of soda contains a whopping 10 teaspoons of sugar.

But beyond the obvious issue of additional calories and sugar from pop and their connection to possible weight gain, health-related areas of concern also would include an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, erosion of tooth enamel and other problems.

Even with diet pop, artificial sweeteners can lead to cravings for more sweet foods, and a higher calorie intake. The sweeteners also are linked to headaches, and drinking calorie-free pop has been associated with depression and a form of diabetes, among other serious issues.

Many people who set aside pop for good say they never miss it. Passing on pop — even for just one day a week — should be a manageable change.

And at a time about two-thirds of all Kansans are considered overweight or obese, it's the kind of simple strategy all ages should pursue as way to healthier living.