"We found quite a clear association between soft drink intake and taking in more calories," according to study coauthor and research director at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, Marlene B. Schwartz, PhD.
Schwartz goes on to explain that people don't eat less because they are drinking soda instead of water, so they're not compensating for the excess calories.
But is just one soda per day that bad?
"Even one soda per day increases your risk of developing metabolic syndrome by about 50 percent," according to Ramachandran Vasan, MD, senior author of the new study and a professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.
Vasan's team found that compared to drinking less than one soda a day, having one or more was linked to a 44 percent increase in risk for metabolic syndrome. Having a daily soda habit -- diet or regular -- may increase your future risk for heart disease.
Other research suggests that just one can of soda per day may increase your weight by as much as 18 pounds per year, according to certified health educator and personal trainer, Kathleen Aicardi.
"If you are going to pick one change to make in your diet, and you drink sugared soft drinks, that would be a great place start," suggests Schwartz.
Schwartz thinks it's important to note that U.S. soft drink consumption has grown almost simultaneously with the U.S. obesity epidemic. Americans drank 22 gallons of non-diet soft drinks per person in 1970, and by 1997, that number nearly doubled to 41 gallons per person -- and obesity ballooned 112 percent.
So I ride my sugary, caffeine rollercoaster to the end. The buzz is gone and now I face the startling reality that even my little afternoon pick-me-up is putting me at future risk for heart disease. I'll have to kick my "soda habit."
Tomorrow, I guess I'll switch to green tea. It may not be as extreme, but at least it won't kill me and it has caffeine, right?
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Shawn McKee graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a BA in Journalism and has written for The Broward and Miami New Times. He made the switch to Green Tea, but occasionally still Does the Dew.