America’s soft drink obsession: the dangers that lie in a can of soda

by Mia Rossi
Two hundred forty calories, 75 milligrams of sodium, 65 grams of sugar: these are some of the ingredients in the popular soft drink Coca-Cola, which half of all Americans drink every day, according to a Gallup poll reported in The Huffington Post.
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The increasing amount of soda consumed in this country, combined with reports of resulting significant health problems, led the New York City Board of Health to approve Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to ban the sale of soft drinks in containers bigger than 16 ounces in the city, which will start in March.
The tremendous public opposition to a ban on a product that has virtually no nutritional value raises the question: are Americans addicted to soda?
Delicious, but dangerous
The initial attraction to soda stems from an obvious attribute: taste. Since all of soda’s calories come from sugar, it appeals to the sweet tooth. The caffeine in many colas add to the addictive quality.
However, the main ingredients in soda, high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose and phosphoric acid, have all been linked to rising obesity rates and type two diabetes in children and adults, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Soda consumption has also been implicated in problems such as memory loss, nerve disorders, behavioral problems, and infertility, mostly due to brominated vegetable oil, which is used to maintain flavor, according to Environmental Health News. The same oil is added to plastic materials for flame prevention.
With this list of potential health risks, why do people keep popping open that tab?
Accessibility leads to addiction
Nutrition teacher Kristine Lockwood shared her experiences with a soda obsession.
“In high school, I drank regular soda. This habit started at home as my mom would always keep soda
in the house,” said Lockwood. “During my senior year in college, at 185 pounds, I decided to cut all calorie-providing drinks from my diet in order to lose weight.”
Lockwood now drinks Vitamin Water Zero as an alternative to soda because “it has no sugar or artificial sweeteners and no calories,” she said.
Advertising adds fuel to the fire
According to the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, the beverage industry now spends $500 million on marketing campaigns directed toward children, putting soft drink logos everywhere. Coca-Cola spends $35 million to sponsor American Idol, which is viewed by more children than any other show. Soda brands also have their own customized YouTube channels and Twitter blogs to advertise new products.
No matter what attempts the average American citizen is making to stay away from the dangers of soda, a soft drink advertisement can affect his or her conscience. This incessant marketing and sale of soda makes campaigns seen by people everywhere,  increasing consumption  and contributing to the growing obesity rates. “With diabetes on the rise,  the marketing companies are only contributing to this problem,” said junior Rachel Schack.
The future of consumption
While the so-called “soda ban” has outraged many New Yorkers who claim the government is imposing on their personal rights, Bloomberg is the first official to, as he said, “take a step to curb obesity.” Though its effectiveness has not been proven, the ban has the potential to spark a series of similar laws in other cities aimed at creating a more healthy society.
Still, between opposition to increased government control of personal choices and Americans’ decades-long love affair with soda, soft drink companies most likely will survive this latest assault on their products.
“I’ve never experienced health problems from drinking soda myself, nor have I known anyone with soda-related health issues,” said senior Zach Brencsons. “So I’ll keep drinking.”