Supermarkets have reportedly lost $80 million in lost sales due to falling soft drink sales. Coca Cola Amatil have announced that they are set to close their Adelaide bottling facility. To further add to the loss in sales there is a there is a push by health advisors to tax soft drinks to discourage their consumption. Due to the increasing rates of obesity in Australia and health concerns associated with obesity soft drink sales appear to be on the rapid decline.
Australians are clearly becoming more educated on the link between soft drink consumption and health status. This is reflected by such a fall in sales. Unfortunately, it may take some time before there is any changes in how supermarkets push these drinks.
We all know that excessive consumption causes tooth decay and weight gain/obesity but there are a couple more notable health conditions:
Studies showed that vitamin D levels in otherwise healthy adolescents was lower in those subjects that consumed soft drinks regularly. Low vitamin D levels are associated with many conditions such as poor immune function, bone disease and mental illness.
The Osteoporosis study concluded that frequent cola consumption was associated with poor Bone Mineral Density. This may be due to losses of not just vitamin D but calcium, magnesium and phosphorous all required for bone density.
I am more concerned about the perception of diet soft drinks being a healthy alternative. There is no advice on labelling that it should be avoided by children or pregnant women even though there is evidence that suggests that they could be potentially harmful in high doses. Consider the following findings:
Studies show a positive relationship between artificial sweeteners and weight gain.
According to studies women who consume diet soft drinks on a regular basis are 30% more likely to have a cardiovascular event.
There is still concern and inconsistent study findings that suggest that high consumption of aspartame may increase the risk of brain tumours, bladder cancer and lymphoma.
Consider the fact that Canada and the European Union rejected the use of Stevia as a safe food additive.
Long term side effects of sucralose are still not clear. The studies that were trailed were only for a 3 month period.
In addressing the health concerns related to soft drink consumption it is important to consider that other drinks are equally high in sugar but not considered soft drinks. Energy drinks, sports drinks, reconstituted juices and flavoured milk contain as much sugar as soft drinks.
I do understand that some people are addicted to soft drink, I do have clients that struggle to give up the fizz. As a treatment objective they benefit from reducing sugar as a whole, and addressing why they are so needed. Gradually as the individual makes a positive changes to the health and lifestyle the soft drinks eventually become less of an issue.
Tucker KL1, Morita K, Qiao N, Hannan MT, Cupples LA, Kiel DP “Colas, but not other carbonated beverages, are associated with low bone mineral density in older women”: The Framingham Osteoporosis Study. (2006) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17023723