Soft Drinks vs Energy Drinks


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A few class periods ago, we discussed the nutritional value (or lack thereof) of soft drinks, particularly in terms of sugar content.  While growing up, I had always been taught that soda was always a poor choice to consume when it comes to beverages.  Personally, the only times I drink soda is when I need it for its caffeine benefit.  The taste of coffee has never really appealed to me so soda is usually the next best option for me when late night studying is necessary.  Other times I turn to energy drinks to keep me awake.  However, after our lecture in class, I began to really think about the nutritional value of other drinks besides soda, more specifically energy drinks, and researched more to compare and contrast the nutritional value of soda and energy drinks. 

Soft drinks and energy drinks are often consumed by teenagers and young adults primarily because of their caffeine content.  When comparing the two products side by side, on average, energy drinks contain substantially more caffeine than soft drinks. The caffeine content of energy drinks ranges from about 50 to 300 mg in each 8-oz. serving.  While non-caffeinated sodas are available, regular caffeinated soft drinks typically have between 20 to 72 mg of caffeine in an average 12-oz. serving, according to the Centers for Science in the Public Interest. (http://www.livestrong.com/article/394029-soft-drinks-vs-energy-drinks/).  It is also important to remember that when reading the nutritional facts on a can of soda or on an energy drink, that these items often contain 2 or 3 servings of the amounts listed.  Therefore, it is easy for consumers, particularly teens, to believe they are taking in a lot less caffeine than they truly are.  These extreme amounts of caffeine (often surpassing the amounts that are in coffee) can cause a crash after a burst of quick energy.  This can often leave you feeling more tired than you were before consuming the beverage.  Overall, energy drinks contain more caffeine than soft drinks, but the higher caffeine content can lead to a harder crash later on in the day.

Similarly to the non-caffeinated versions of soda, there are diet versions of both soft drinks and energy drinks that can contain little or no sugar.  While exact amounts of sugar vary among brand and flavor of soda and energy drink, soft drinks usually contain a good amount of more sugar than energy drinks.  On average, soft drinks usually contain between 35 to 45 g of sugar in each serving while energy drinks contain between 20 to 30 g of sugar per serving (http://www.livestrong.com/article/394029-soft-drinks-vs-energy-drinks/).  Clearly neither type of drink is low sugar or would be viable as a healthful option, but it is evident that soda contains more sugar than energy drinks.

 While excessive amounts of sugar and caffeine are being consumed by teenagers and young adults through both energy drinks and soda, the side effects are becoming more and more evident in our society.  These drinks have become the number one source of added sugar in Americans' diets (http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/on-fitness/2009/04/21/soft-drinks-and-energy-drinks-too-sweet-for-your-own-good).  Consuming large amounts of sugar may increase the risk of obesity, which in turn increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer.  Walter Willett, who chairs the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health, argues that there is a "direct causal link" between sugar-sweetened soft drinks and energy drinks and obesity, which is in turn linked to heart disease, some types of cancer, arthritis, and type 2 diabetes (http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/on-fitness/2009/04/21/soft-drinks-and-energy-drinks-too-sweet-for-your-own-good).  In addition, it has been found that energy drinks include not only harmful sugars in their ingredients but also include a variety of supplemental ingredients designed to serve specific purposes. These supplemental ingredients may include B vitamins, taurine, carnitine, glucuronlactone, inositol, ginseng or guarana.  Marketers claim that these extra ingredients provide health benefits both physically and mentally, when in reality, it has been found that many of these claims have not been scientifically proven at all and therefore almost trick the consumers purchasing the product simply to increase sales. 

In conclusion, multiple studies and evidence have unveiled that there is an extreme lack of nutrient value in both soft drinks and energy drinks.  So which, if any, should we choose to drink? Is it better to choose an option that will work to provide that extra boost of energy when you need it despite its negative side effects?  Is the extra sugar in our diet worth it? What do you think will happen in the future if young adults continue to consume these types of beverages at their current rates?  What do you think?

References:

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/on-fitness/2009/04/21/soft-drinks-and-energy-drinks-too-sweet-for-your-own-good

http://www.livestrong.com/article/394029-soft-drinks-vs-energy-drinks/

http://milford-ma.patch.com/articles/energy-drinks-coffee-soda-a-health-dilemma

 

1 Comment

I would not chose to have any of the two. The simple reason is this stuff destroys your teeth because of the amount of sugar and chemicals that they have in them. I don't understand how you could have something that is supposed to give you energy being sugar free. The soda products effects can already be seen when you put a penny in with it and the penny gets cleaned off. I would probably choose to eat an apple. An apple I get the same energy boost or a simpilar energy boost to that of the soda or energy drink. http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-report/active-living/ways-to-boost-energy.aspx

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