Did you know that every day parents are slowly killing their children and even themselves simply by packing a lunch? It’s a horrifying thought, isn’t it? Unfortunately, it is absolutely true.
Most of us have packed a lunch or snack containing soda even if only as the occasional treat and not given it much thought. And those of us who wouldn’t dare to drink soda let alone give it to our child, usually opt for fruits, veggies, and fruit juices instead. Well, it turns out that even those—organic too—poses health risks.
Between the sugar and empty calories in soda and other sweetened drinks, including fruit juice, the many health risks associated with diet pop, and the pesticides making it onto our produce including those that are organic; it’s more important now than ever to take a closer look at what we are feeding ourselves and our families.
The following are alarming facts about the dangers of soda and the pesticides in foods we eat every day:
- Just one soda a day increases your risk of being overweight. According to a study that was commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO) in the British Medical Journal, adults were 27 percent more likely to be overweight, and a child’s risk increased by a whopping 55 percent.
- A 12-ounce glass of orange juice has the same amount of calories as 3 chocolate chip cookies according to the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, whose website also says that just one 12-ounce can of soda everyday equates to 55,000 calories or 15 extra pounds per year.
- One can of regular or diet soda a day increases a person’s risk of stroke by 16 percent according to a 2012 study in the American Journal of Clinical nutrition.
- Diet soda has been linked to a higher risk of vascular events, kidney function decline, and diabetes in separate studies performed between 2011 and 2013.
- Fructose in sweetened drinks can be converted into belly fat and liver fat.
- Almost half of the organic fruits and vegetables tested in Canada over the last 2 years contained pesticide residue, some of which violated the maximum pesticide presence allowance, according to information from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
- Fruit juice samples analyzed for pesticides found that even though most contained the amount of pesticides allowed, a small amount did contain higher than acceptable levels of pesticides. Juice not from concentrate had the highest levels of pesticide residues at 67 percent, with juice from concentrate containing 48 percent.
- Babies and children are especially sensitive to health risks from pesticides because their organs are still developing and maturing and compared to adults, they are exposed to higher amounts of pesticides because they eat and drink more in relation to their body weight.
- Pesticides have been linked to birth defects, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, asthma, cancer, and more.
- Small amounts of pesticides can get into organic foods, even those we grow ourselves, through contaminated water and soil or spray drift from nearby farms.
- Pesticide residue can get onto organic produce through contact with non-organic produce during shipping.
What We Can Do
As scary as the facts may be, there are things that we can do. The obvious is to eliminate sweetened drinks and sodas and diet sodas from our diets. Instead of drinking fruit juice, eat the actual fruit itself so you get its full nutritional benefits and feel fuller on less calories. An orange contains less than half of the calories of a glass or orange juice!
When it comes to produce, wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly and try to stick to organic foods whenever possible because certified organic produce will always be your safest bet along with growing your own. Buying local is also a good idea since it can reduce or even eliminate the risk of further contamination from contact with non-organic produce. And don’t just think about going organic when it comes to produce but also all of the other foods that you eat.
For more on the diseases and conditions caused by pesticides and sodas, click here.
About the author: Adrienne is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and fitness for more than a decade. When she's not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking about her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.
- Te Morenga L, Mallard S, Mann J. (2012). Dietary sugars and body weight: systematic review and meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials and cohort studies. PubMed. Retrieved on February 19, 2014, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23321486
- Sweet Drinks and Obesity. UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. Retrieved on February 19, 2014, from http://www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org/education/sweet_drinks_and_obesity/
- Wellness team. (2013). Do You Drink Soda Every Day? Replace sugary drinks with healthier beverages. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved on February 19, 2014, from http://health.clevelandclinic.org/2013/03/soda-do-you-drink-it-every-day/
- (2013). Executive Summary – 2010-2011 Pesticides in Coffee, Fruit Juice and Tea. Canada Food Inspection Agency. Retrieved on February 19, 2014, from http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/chemical-residues-microbiology/chemical-residues/pesticides/eng/1351913846907/1351913943956.
- (2012). Pesticides and Food: Why Children May be Especially Sensitive to Pesticides. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved on February 19, 2014, from http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/food/pest.htm
- Owens, Kagan, Feldman, Jay, Kepner, John. (2010). Wide Range of Diseases Linked to Pesticides: Database supports policy shift from risk to alternatives assessment. Beyond Pesticides. Retrieved on February 19, 2014, from, http://www.beyondpesticides.org/health/pid-database.pdf