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The average American drinks an estimated 56 gallons of soft drinks each year, nearly a gallon of soda every week.  Before you grab the next can of soda, consider this: one can of soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar, 150 calories, 30 to 55 mg of caffeine, and is loaded with artificial coloring and sulphites. All of that amount of sugar, calories and harmful additives in a product that has absolutely no nutritional value. Studies also have linked soda to osteoporosis, obesity, tooth decay, and heart disease. Despite this, soda accounts for more than one-quarter of all drinks consumed in the United States.

Soft drinks are being marketed toward children and teenagers who are among the largest consumers. Marketers spend close to $500 million dollars a year to reach children and adolescents with messages about sugar-sweetened drinks, more than they spend on any other category. Teenage boys drink, on average, three or more cans of soda per day, and 10 percent drink seven or more cans a day. The average for teenage girls is more than two cans a day, and 10 percent drink more than five cans a day. A child’s risk for obesity increases an average of 60 percent with every additional daily serving of soda.

Schools and Soda Consumption

While these numbers may sound high, they’re not surprising considering that most school hallways are lined with vending machines that sell, of course, soft drinks. It’s not uncommon for schools to make marketing deals with leading soft drink companies from which they receive commissions, based on a percentage of sales at each school.

Getting rid of vending machines in schools–or replacing their contents with pure water and healthy snacks–could make a big difference, as vending machines can increase the consumption of sweetened beverages by up to 50 or more cans of soda per student per year.

Let’s take a look at some of the major components of a can of soda.

In one can of Soda, you will find:

Sugar. Soft drink manufacturers are the largest single user of refined sugar in the United States. It is a proven fact that sugar increases insulin levels, which can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, premature aging, and many more negative side effects. Most sodas include over 100 percent of the recommended daily amount (RDA) of sugar.

Aspartame. This chemical is used as a sugar substitute in diet sodas. There are over 92 different health side effects associated with aspartame consumption which include but not limited to brain tumors, diabetes, emotional disorders, and epilepsy/seizures. When aspartame is stored for long periods of time or kept in warm areas it changes to methanol, an alcohol that converts to formaldehyde and formic acid, which are known carcinogens.

Caffeine. Caffeinated drinks cause jitters, insomnia, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, elevated blood cholesterol levels, vitamin and mineral depletion, breast lumps, and perhaps some forms of cancer.

Tap Water. Tap water is the main ingredient in bottled soft drinks. Everyone needs to avoid drinking tap water because it can carry any number of chemicals including chlorine, trihalomethanes, lead, cadmium, and various pollutants.

Soda is one of the main reasons, nutritionally speaking, why many people suffer health problems. Aside from the negative effects of the soda itself, drinking a lot of soda is likely to leave you with little appetite for vegetables, protein, and other food that your body needs. If you are still drinking soda, stopping the habit is an easy way to start improving your health.

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