A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York. The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
By Nina Pajak
Big news on the “soda is evil” front. It turns out that it not only rots your teeth and gives you diabetes and makes you morbidly obese, it also shortens your lifespan.
If this seems like an obvious conclusion given all the terrible problems I just listed, well, it sort of is. But also it isn’t. In fact, some scientists got all sciencey and found that daily consumption of 20 ounces of soda per day led to an actual change in DNA that causes cells to age faster and puts people at a higher risk for life-shortening diseases. So even if you’re a skinny minnie and you only eat carrot sticks and tofu with your Mountain Dew, your drinking problem could still kill you in about the same amount of time cigarettes might.
Personally, I prefer Dr. Pepper to Marlboros, but it’s all a matter of taste at this point. Soda pro: doesn’t make your clothes and car stink. Soda con: makes you super fat. Cigarettes pro: often aids in weight loss. Cigarettes con: banned in most places where soda is still permitted.
The American Beverage Association isn’t commenting beyond pointing out that the study wasn’t “conclusive,” but I think at this point we know that they’re about as trustworthy as the fine folks at big tobacco and their board meetings probably look a lot like this (not pictured: Montgomery Burns). Thankfully, the study also found no link between other beverages like diet soda and fruit juice and premature aging, so Diet Cokeheads and every appajuice-loving kid on the planet can carry on as they were.
I’m not sure whether this new information changes how I feel about the still continuing battle between our city’s government and soda. DeBlasio has taken up the Bloomberg mantle on this one, a political surprise to many that ought to make us stand back and give the issue some further thought. On the one hand, it remains and is ever more so a public health problem. On the other hand, whereas smoking affects those around us who choose not to partake, indulging in sugary drinks affects only the imbiber. And I suppose there are worse and equally legal ways to kill yourself slowly. Like with these things. But I’d be in strong favor of soda bottles bearing warning labels similar to those found on packs of cigarettes and on liquor bottles, with language that addresses parents in particular. At this point, the risk level isn’t terribly far off from those latter two vices, and you wouldn’t give your kids booze or smokes, right? In fact, I think this copy writes itself.
WARNING: DRINKING SODA MAY SHORTEN LIFESPAN AND CONTRIBUTE TO DEVASTATING OBESITY. PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY AND DO NOT GIVE TO YOUR CHILDREN ANY MORE THAN YOU SHARE YOUR WINE OR CIGARETTES WITH THEM.
That sounds pretty even-handed to me.
Nina Pajak is a writer living with her husband, daughter and dog in Queens. Connect with Nina on Twitter!