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Effects of soft drinks on health

A soft drink  is a non-alcoholic beverage typically containing water and a flavoring agent. Many of these beverages are carbonated and sweetened with either sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, and they may contain additional ingredients such as fruit juice. They are called "soft" in contrast to "hard" because "hard" generally refers to drinks with a significant alcohol content.Widely sold soft drinks include cola, orange soda, grape soda, cream soda, ginger ale, flavored water, sparkling lemonade, sparkling water, iced tea, sweet tea, squash, and fruit punch.Soft drinks are not thought of as containing milk or any other dairy product. Beverages that are not soft drinks include hot chocolate, hot tea, coffee, juice, milkshake, and schorl. Many carbonated soft drinks sweetened with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup are available in diet versions that are sweetened with a sugar substitute.The United States ranks first among countries in soft drink consumption. The per-capita consumption of soft drinks is in excess of 150 quarts per year, or about three quarts per week.
In Europe, soft drinks are typically sold in 2, 1.5, 1-liter, 500 ml plastic or 330 ml glass bottles and aluminium cans are traditionally sized in 330 mL, although 250 mL slim cans have become popular since the introduction of canned energy drinks and 355 mL variants of the slim cans have been introduced by Red Bull more recently. Cans and bottles often come in packs of six or four.Many soft drinks contain ingredients that are themselves sources of concern: caffeine is linked to anxiety and sleep disruption when consumed in excess, and the health effects of high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners remain controversial. Sodium benzoate has been investigated as a possible cause of DNA damage and hyperactivity. Other substances have negative health effects, but are present in such small quantities that they are unlikely to pose any substantial health risk. Benzene belongs to this category: the amount of benzene in soft drinks is small enough that it is unlikely to pose a health risk.Recent research has linked soft drinks with childhood obesity - and an estimated 200 school districts nationwide have contracts with soft drink companies that give them exclusive rights to sell their products in schools.Sugar-sweetened drinks also cause weight gain in adults. In one study, overweight individuals consumed a daily supplement of sucrose-sweetened or artificially sweetened drinks or foods for a 10 week period. Most of the supplement was in the form of soft drinks. Individuals in the sucrose group gained 1.6 kg, and individuals in the artificial-sweetener group lost 1.0 kg. A two week study had participants supplement their diet with sugar-sweetened soft drinks, artificially sweetened soft drinks, or neither. Although the participants gained the most weight when consuming the sugar-sweetened drinks, some of the differences were unreliable: the differences between men who consumed sugar-sweetened drinks or no drinks was not statistically significant.Phosphorus is found in most foods but soda pops, diet pops contain especially high amounts. The ideal dietary phosphorus-calcium ratio is about 1:1. The ratio in the average American diet is often greater than 2:1 and sometimes even 4:1 or 5:1. At those levels, excess calcium is removed from bone and eliminated, blood levels are reduced, and there is bone demineralization. A diet high in phosphorus and low in calcium has been shown to cause bone loss and increase tissue calcification.Most soft drinks contain high concentration of simple carbohydrates , glucose, fructose, sucrose and other simple sugars. Oral bacteria ferment carbohydrates and produce acid, which dissolves tooth enamel during the dental decay process; thus, sweetened drinks are likely to increase risk of dental caries. The risk is greater if the frequency of consumption is high.A large number of soft drinks are acidic, and some may have a pH of 3.0 or even lower.Drinking acidic drinks over a long period of time and continuous sipping can therefore erode the tooth enamel. Drinking through a straw is often advised by dentists as the drink is then swallowed from the back of the mouth and does not come into contact with the teeth as much. It has also been suggested that brushing teeth right after drinking soft drinks should be avoided as this can result in additional erosion to the teeth due to the presence of acid.Research suggests a statistically significant inverse relationship between consumption of carbonated beverages and bone mineral density in young girls, which places them at increased risk of suffering fractures in the future.One hypothesis to explain this relationship is that the phosphoric acid contained in some soft drinks (colas) displaces calcium from the bones, lowering bone density of the skeleton and leading to weakened bones, or osteoporosis. 
Simple sugars such as fructose are converted into the same intermediates as in glucose metabolism.However, metabolism of fructose is extremely rapid and is initiated by fructokinase. Fructokinase activity is not regulated by metabolism or hormones and proceeds rapidly after intake of fructose. While the intermediates of fructose metabolism are similar to those of glucose, the rates of formation are excessive. This fact promotes fatty acid and triglyceride synthesis in the liver, leading to accumulation of fat throughout the body and possibly non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Increased blood lipid levels also seem to follow fructose ingestion over time.


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