girls drinking waterBy Dale Peterson, M.D.

My wife and I recently went out to eat with a nine year-old granddaughter.  When the waitress came to take our drink orders we requested water.  Our granddaughter did the same.

“Are you sure?” the waitress asked.  “Kids don’t drink water; they drink sodas!  What do you really want to drink?”

“I’d really like water,” our granddaughter responded, undeterred.

The waitress’ response was in step with what is known about beverage choices in the United States today.  While consumption of water and milk has been declining, the use of soft drinks and other sweetened beverages has been steadily rising.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teen-aged boys drink an average of 22 ounces of soda daily while girls take in an average of 14 ounces daily.

The increase in soft drink consumption is believed to be one of the reasons one out of every three children is now considered obese.  Each 12 ounce serving contains 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar.

A Harvard study of the eating, drinking, and exercise habits of children revealed that for every soft drink consumed per day the risk of obesity increased by 50%.

The most well-documented hazard of drinking soft drinks is the damage done to tooth enamel. Cola type beverages cause erosions on the tooth surfaces, which predisposes to decay.

Drink It Fast

The effect is less pronounced if the beverage is consumed quickly. It’s more damaging if it is sipped slowly allowing the liquid to remain in contact with the teeth for a longer period of time. Unfortunately, sodas are sipped in the majority of instances.

The highly acidic drinks have also been shown to weaken bones and increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. In past decades, osteoporotic fractures occurred primarily in elderly women who had lost bone after going through menopause.

A study of teen-aged girl athletes found that cola drinkers were nearly five times more likely to sustain a fracture than girls who did not drink carbonated beverages.

One need not resort to scientific studies to recognize the hazards inherent in consuming soft drinks, however. All that is needed is observation and logic. Consider the following:

One of the most effective ways to remove organic stains, such as fruit juice, from carpet is to apply club soda, which will dissolve the material. Since soda takes fruit juice out of carpet one should logically assume that drinking a soda during the course of a meal will adversely affect the ability to obtain nutrients from foods.

An effective way to remove grease stains from clothing is to add a carbonated beverage along with the detergent to the washing machine. The grease will be loosened. If soda breaks down fats, it will interfere with the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients in the diet.

A steak placed in a bowl of cola will vanish within two days.

This means that colas will adversely affect the protein content of the diet as well.

The pH (acidity) of phosphoric acid is 2.8 while that of blood is 7.4. A drop in blood pH to 7.2 is life threatening. Since the body must use minerals to neutralize the acid introduced by the soda in order to survive, bone strength will deteriorate over time.

To be fair, a number of studies, supported in many cases by grants from the soft drink industry, conclude that neither regular or diet sodas have any effect upon health and can and should be included in the daily diet.

Having lived through the era of tobacco institute studies that failed to demonstrate any adverse effect from smoking,

I’m unimpressed. I’ll stick with logic.

The New Year is a time for resolutions.  I suggest that you resolve to limit soft drink consumption and make water your family’s primary beverage in 2012.  The rewards in regards to your health will be tremendous.

Eat Healthy – The New Year is Here!

Dale Petersen MD

By Dale Peterson, MD- Building Health

Dr. Dale Peterson is a graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Medicine. He completed his residency in FamilyMedicine at the University of Oklahoma. He is a past president of the Oklahoma Academy of  Family Physicians. He had a full-time family practice in Edmond, Oklahoma, for over 20 years and was a Chief of Staff of the Edmond Hospital. He was active in teachingfor many years as a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine through the Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center.

Dr. Peterson left his full-time family practice in 1999 to consult with individuals who are seeking ways to restore and maintain their health through improved nutrition and other lifestyle changes. He founded the Wellness Clubs of America to give people access to credible information on supporting and maintaining their health.  His monthly wellness letter, Health by Design, and his Health by Design E-Newsletter provide helpful information to individuals interested in preventing and conquering health challenges.  He is the author of Building Health by Design:  Adding Life to Your Years and Years to Your Life .

Dr. Peterson speaks regularly on subjects related to health and nutrition. He hosted a weekly radio program,Your Health Matters, on KTOK in Oklahoma City for five years. For the past nine years he has addressed questions from across the nation on his Your Health Matters weekly teleconference.He offers a free video LifeXtension course at

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