Sugar Dangers

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Many sweet beverages are little more than sugar delivery systems, and the extra calories are easy to miss, or underestimate.

The Hidden Dangers of Sugary Drinks

Liquid Candy

Here’s a secret: I prefer regular soda to diet. I know: empty calories. I should drink water instead. And I do, usually. For
me, soft drinks are a treat, and I don’t like the taste of artificial sweeteners. Before the empty-calorie police haul me
away, though, please tell them I can count the number of sodas I drink in an entire year on one hand. Like I said, they’re
a treat.

But for many of us, sugary drinks are almost another food group. People enjoy sodas all over the world, but no one loves soft
drinks quite as much as Americans do. We consumed nearly 50 gallons each, on average, last year, according to Beverage Digest.

Of course, in an obesity epidemic, when drinks are served in cups as big as buckets, soft drinks are an easy target. But here’s
where current nutrition thinking about sweet beverages takes a twist: Sodas aren’t the only source of liquid sugar that many
health experts would like to see drastically reduced in our diet. If you think sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) don’t include
virtuous-sounding agave-sweetened teas or 100-percent natural fruit juices, you’re wrong. Nutritional research on the effects
of SSBs looks at any beverage containing more than a threshold amount of sugar. That puts orange juice, with its 2.4 grams
of naturally occurring sugar per ounce, in the lineup with 4-gram-per-ounce orange soda.