Does Soda Get You Fat?

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Drinking soda can cause weight gain, especially if you are predisposed to obesity.
Drinking soda can cause weight gain, especially if you are predisposed to obesity. (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

The obesity epidemic is a major health problem. In fact, two-thirds of American adults and one-third of American children are currently overweight or obese and the numbers seem to be rising, according to Roni Caryn Rabin in "The New York Times. The increasing consumption of soda may be a significant contributor to the epidemic of obesity and excessive weight gain, according to an article published in the “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” in August 2006. Half of the people in the United States consume sugary drinks every day, notes the Harvard School of Public Health.

Count the Calories

When you break it down, all soda is made up of only sugar and calories. It contains no nutrients and offers no nutritional benefits. A single can of soda contains 155 calories and 39.5 grams of sugar. If you drank just one 12-ounce can of soda every day without changing any of your other eating habits, you could gain 10 to 15 pounds in a year, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

The Science

The University of California San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital notes that the human body is not made to drink calories. The hunger and satiety responses are controlled by a hormone called ghrelin. When the amount of ghrelin in your body increases, you feel hungry. As you eat, the levels of ghrelin drop and you begin to feel full. This response only works with food and not liquids. You can drink as many calories as you want, but they will never make you feel full. As a result, you end up going over your calorie recommendations, because you still eat the same amount of food that you normally would.

It Runs in the Family

Some people are predisposed to obesity and excess adipose -- or fat -- tissue. Genetics also play a role in where fat is stored in your body and how efficiently your body burns calories. According to a study published in “The New England Journal of Medicine” in October 2012, your genetic background may increase your susceptibility to gaining weight from drinking sugar-sweetened beverages. If obesity runs in your family, especially if both your parents are obese, be extra careful about drinking soda.

Swap the Soda

Because soda offers no nutritional benefit, there is really no need for it in your diet. Sure, it may taste sweet, but the sugar-laden beverage takes a toll on your health. In addition to setting you up for weight gain, drinking soda regularly also increases your risk of type 2 diabetes and your susceptibility to cavities. Instead of reaching for a can of soda, grab a bottle of water. Flavor your water with a squeeze of fresh orange or lemon juice or a sprig of mint. If you’re looking for carbonation, reach for a can of sodium-free, unsweetened seltzer water. Herbal teas are another option.

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