Campus examines unhealthy soda drinking habits

People have guilty pleasures they know are not always good for them. For some it is chocolate and sweets and for others it is soda.

While having a soda every once in a while is OK, too much of it can lead to negative consequences.

“One of the largest problems with drinking soda is the calorie content and the sugar content,” said Lee Renfroe, associate professor of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. “Most of the average 12 ounce sodas, which is not what a lot of people drink, has well over 100 calories in it and maybe 10 to 20 grams of sugar in one can.

“Most people drink the 16-ounce and 20-ounce sodas, which have more sugar and calories than the 12 ounces. So, empty calories and high sugar content are the biggest problems.”

The maximum sugar intake suggested per day is 37.5 grams for men and 25 grams for women. Consuming one can of soda takes up a majority of the sugar a body should have, according to American Heart Association. Too much sugar can lead to significant increase in the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, contribute to obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

However, some people do not follow this rule of thumb or even know about it.

Diet soda is sometimes seen as a better alternative to regular soda, though not everyone enjoys it.

A 2010 study by the Centers for Disease Control found 20 percent of the U.S. consumes diet soda.

“I prefer regular soda,” said freshman Sam Oliver. “If I’m going to drink a soda, then I want to drink something real. I don’t like diet at all.”

Renfroe said she thinks there are two sides to the diet soda debate.

“Some people don’t believe artificial sweeteners are a good health choice based on some of the studies that have been done,” she said. “There is also research that supports that in the body artificial sweeteners can fake the body out and make it think it is real sugar.”

Some say they do not drink soda

at all.

“I used to drink a lot of soda, but then I stopped because I didn’t like it anymore,” said sophomore Preston Hutcheson. “I don’t like the way it makes me feel.”

Oliver said he does not drink soda often and after not drinking it for a while, he said it tasted different

to him.

“It was during the summer, so it was for about two months,” he said. Once I started to drink soda again, it did taste weird to me — it was too sweet.”

While Hutcheson and Oliver were able to easily give up soda, it is not that easy for some people.

“People continue to drink soda because a lot of them have caffeine in them,” Renfroe said. “There are people who need coffee in the morning to get themselves going, but those who don’t drink coffee often turn to other beverages that have caffeine in them. Many people turn to soda. Many of them, not all of them, have high amounts of caffeine in them like Coke and Mountain Dew. Sugar is another reason — it gives people a short term boost of energy.”

At least 200 mg of caffeine per day can lead to addiction. This intake of caffeine can only come from large amounts of soda per day, according to

While soda does not contain as much caffeine as coffee, it is still addictive and is offered in most places. For those people who have a hard time giving up soda, Renfroe said she recommends going through a gradual reduction.

“If you drink six sodas a day, try to cut to five sodas a day and gradually reduce it each week,” Renfroe said.

Sophomore Ayzia Gholston said she was relieved when she learned about the gradual reduction of soda. She said she thinks this would help her give up soda much easier.

Renfroe offers a better alternative to soda.

“Water is a great way to hydrate yourself, but some people don’t like water,” she said. “You can squeeze an orange, lemon or lime slice into the water. You can also add a quarter cup of fruit juice to water. A 100 percent fruit juice can be a healthy beverage, but in moderation.”