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Sugary Drinks: Why Supersizing Them is Supersizing Us

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supersized sugary drinks will make us supersized Makarov Alexander/PhotoSpin

Part I of a two-part series

Pop quiz:

When you feel thirsty do you tend to go for:
a. carbonated soft drink (soda)
b. fruit juice or fruit drink
c. water
d. energy drink

If you answered water, congratulations. You’re on the right track.

Water provides everything the body needs. It’s the perfect fluid for quenching your thirst and restoring fluids lost through metabolism and exercise, according to The Beverage Guidance Panel, an independent group of U.S. nutrition experts.

If you answered one of the other options, you are certainly not alone. In fact, on any given day, half of all Americans — that’s about 157 million of us — consume sugar sweetened drinks.

Given that statistic, it should come as no surprise that serving up sugary drinks is big business. In the United States alone, soft drink manufacturing is a $410 billion industry, according to 2002 figures.

So what's the big deal anyway? When it comes to our health, are sugary drinks really Public Enemy Number One?

Research shows there is no question we are drinking more highly sweetened drinks now than in the past, and those rising consumption rates are a major contributor to increased obesity rates and obesity-related health conditions.

This is a well-researched area with scores of studies all pointing to over-consumption of sugary drinks and systematic weight gain leading to poor health.

For example, University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) researchers found adults who drink a soda or more per day are 27 percent more likely to be overweight than those who do not drink sodas, regardless of income or ethnicity.

Since the1950s, Americans' sugary drinks consumption has risen dramatically —fivefold — according to research.

Before 1950, the average size of soft drinks were 6.5-ounces. By the early 1950s, soft drink makers had introduced the 12-ounce bottle, which became the standard size during the next decade.

But by 2009, the 20-ounce bottle was the norm.

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