Is the Soft Drink Industry the Next Big Tobacco?

A shocking 7% of America's calories come from soda and sugary drinks.

In a study that falls into the “no shit, Sherlock” category, researchers found that drinking one or two sugary beverages a day – like soda, iced tea, sweetened fruit drinks, and vitamin water – leads to increased risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome (including high blood pressure, large waist size, etc.).

The study, based on a group of more than 300,000 individuals, concluded that the elevated risk amounted to 26% for type 2 diabetes and 20% for metabolic syndrome.

According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 18 million people have diabetes; mostly type 2. Beyond the 72,500 lives that diabetes claims annually, it costs the United States $174 billion each year. Hurricane Katrina, by comparison, killed 1,836 people and cost $150 billion.

So how does drinking sugary drinks lead to type 2 diabetes? Experts say that the link occurs from the weight gain that sugary beverages help facilitate. In addition, Web MD states:

The sugar-sweetened drinks can also raise blood sugar and insulin concentrations quickly, in turn leading to insulin resistance and and higher risk of diabetes, according to the researchers.

Yet another reason to justify soda being on my 6 absolute worst foods to eat list. And, yet another reason for soda and vitamin water drinkers to kick their habit; eliminating just one sugary beverage is one small way to make a huge change in the quality of your life.

It all begs the question: Is the soft drink industry the next big tobacco?

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  1. I quit drinking soda for health reasons (losing weight and cardiac arrhythmia), and it really has made a difference.

    I had to go find out whether the ad in the picture was real or not. It’s not. But I did stumble across a real one that said pouring 7-Up gently into a glass of milk (not stirring it) makes it delicious and easier to drink!

  2. Davey, my question here is: What can you recommend to replace sugary-soft-drinks in a person’s diet, that they’ll find interesting?

    I’m in the process of kicking my Coca-Cola/Pepsi habit, and kicking out anything that isn’t decaf, but I’m finding it hard to find something interesting to drink other than water.

    I don’t necessarily miss Coca-Cola etc, but I’ve been conditioned to think they’re the only drink available when you want a cold swig!


    (PS – Awesome blogs!)

  3. Thank goodness I switched to no sugar/low calorie water based libation years ago. But then, maybe that’s where my bladder cancer came from … who knows ?!

  4. No it’s not. Unlike tobacco it is right on the bottle what is in it and diet experts have warned for years on too much sugar intake. With additions of diet sodas that are sugar fee it negates the argument even more. Soda in general may not be healthy but it does not conceal that fact.

  5. With all due respect, T, I disagree a bit. For soda to be labeled accurately, that is, for it to really tell you how downright poisonous it it, there would be a sticker with a big fat outline of something like a person with the words “MAY CAUSE OBESITY, DIABETES, HEART DISEASE, ROTTEN TEETH, HORMONE FLUCTUATIONS, ETC.” Pop is not ok, ever, and the sooner people realize that, the sooner we’ll stop being so unhealthy as a people.

    • Alex I’m not disagreeing soda is not that healthy. The problem is plenty of foods are unhealthy. It’s a matter of education and getting people to insist on more accountability by manufacturers.

      I mean if you wanted to most foods could be termed unhealthy. Walnuts in sufficient quantity can cause toxic build up of poison. Peppers can cause stomach erosion. Its all about moderation and better choices.

  6. What is even more sad is that we are paying for soda anc chips for those on food stamps. When I was in high school back when food stamps first came out, I worked in the small town grocery where I lived, there were many restrictions on what could be purchased with food stamps.

    Took early retirement a couple years ago and for a part time job thought working in a grocery again would be interesting–it is–but it is disappointing to see all the unhealthy food purchased with food stamps–then those who use there food stamps foolishly end up with myraid health problems due to their poor diet and welfare picks up their medical care. Seriously, people come through the line, buy $100 or more of food and all too often 95% of what they purchase is soda, chips, candy, cookies, ice cream, gum–on food stamps???????????????????

    I support healthy food for all, but have to wonder if the junk food industry and AMA haven’t teamed up to get the grossly relaxed food stamp regulations adopted in the last 40 years.

    • Mike I agree some limits should be entailed. I will say ice cream should be allowed. Having had my father battle with cancer for several years I know it to be healthier than people think. Toward the end he could not swallow normal food and the dairy and fruits in the ice cream provided him with a good suppliment to his diet.

  7. There are so many delicious and nutritious substitutes for junk food, just takes some planning and education. The education part is easy thanks to google.

    Try some oven baked sweet potato chips. yummy

    Iced tea is a great replacement for sodas. There are so many varieties of tea you should be able to find a flavor that you like, both with and without caffeine. Just be easy on the sweetener. A very small amount of honey adds just the right amount of sweetness, or try no sweetener at all. In the flavored teas, it’s often not even necessary.

  8. Hi ho Davey Wavey!

    After spinal surgery I came off sodas and changed to flavoured waters thinking they were better – turns out they still contain about 72g per 1.5L bottle (which I would drink each day)!

    I like your suggestion of mixing 100% fruit juice with plain water – but, lets say I put 100ml juice into a 300ml glass, top up with water – thats 12g sugar per glass. x5 to make up my normal 1.5L a day = 60g sugar per day. Not a huge difference.

    Sorry for what must look like a maths oral exam, but I’m trying to find the best options!!

    Any help would be great!

  9. Glenn Macdonald says:


    Well it really depends on the person you are, because if you don’t smoke then the tobacco industry isn’t big, so that really doesn’t automaticity make the soft drink industry the next big thing if you don’t like soft drinks.