AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant A small point? In reality, proving this would be a scientific leap that could help make the case for higher taxes on soda, restrictions on how and where it is sold – maybe even a surgeon general’s warning on labels. “We’ve done it with cigarettes,” said one scientist advocating this, Barry Popkin at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Here is the “food police” indictment of soda and its sugar-sweetened co-conspirators. You be the judge: Count One: Guilt by association Soft drink consumption rose more than 60 percent among adults and more than doubled in kids from 1977-97. The prevalence of obesity roughly doubled in that time. Scientists say these parallel trends are one criterion for proving cause-and-effect. Low-fat, low-cal, low-carb. Atkins, South Beach, The Zone. Food fads may be distracting attention from something more insidiously piling on pounds: beverages. One of every five calories in the American diet is liquid. The nation’s single biggest “food” is soda, and nutrition experts have long demonized it. Now they are escalating the fight. In reports to be published in science journals this week, two groups of researchers hope to add evidence to the theory that soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks don’t just go hand-in-hand with obesity, but actually cause it. Not that these drinks are the only cause – genetics, exercise and other factors are involved – but that they are one cause, perhaps the leading cause. Count Two: Physical evidence Biologically, the calories from sugar-sweetened beverages are fundamentally different in the body than those from food. The main sweetener in soda – high-fructose corn syrup – can increase fats in the blood called triglycerides, which raises the risk of heart problems, diabetes and other health woes. This sweetener also doesn’t spur production of insulin to make the body “process” calories, nor does it spur leptin, a substance that tamps down appetite, as other carbohydrates do, explained Dr. George Bray of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. “There’s a lack of fullness or satiety. The brain just seems to add it on,” said Dr. Louis Aronne, a Weill-Cornell Medical College doctor who is president of the Obesity Society. Two studies by Penn State nutritionist Barbara Rolls illustrate this. One gave 14 men lemonade, diet lemonade, water or no drink and then allowed them to eat as much as they wanted at lunch. Food intake didn’t vary, no matter what they drank. The second study gave 44 women water, diet soda, regular soda, orange juice, milk or no drink before lunch. Total intake was 104 calories greater for those given caloric beverages than those given diet soda, water or no beverage. Caloric drinks didn’t help women feel any fuller either. Count Three: Bad influence on others Sugar-sweetened beverages affect the intake of other foods, such as lowering milk consumption. Popkin contends they also may be psychological triggers of poor eating habits and cravings for fast food. He examined dietary patterns of 9,500 American adults in a federal study from 1999-2002. Those who drank healthier beverages – water, low-fat milk, unsweetened coffee or tea – were more likely to eat vegetables and less likely to eat fast food. Conversely, “fast-food consumption was doubled if they were high soda consumers and vegetable consumption was halved,” he said. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!