John Brock: Government study: Sodas cause obesity among kids - no kidding!

  • Tuesday, January 22, 2013

And, yet, another study (tax-paid grant, I bet) has concluded something most of us already knew: Sodas can make you fat.

Again, the results of the research point toward soft drinks causing obesity. Who would have thought that bottles and bottles of colored water laced with heaping helpings of raw sugar would cause folks to get fat? You didn’t have to tell my grandmother that. In fact, if we would just go back and look at all of the admonitions our grandparents presented, we could dispense with a great portion of the studies that are publicly funded today. Concerning any substance containing abundant sugar, Grandmother could also be quoted, “It’ll rot your teeth out!”

So let’s see if I have this right. Every time the little tykes get thirsty, we fill them with colored, heavily sweetened, carbonated water and wonder why they balloon up.

I must say, anybody who didn’t know that has no business being turned loose at a drink dispenser with a handful of dollar bills. Kids don’t seem to drink water anymore. Every time I see a youngster drinking a fluid (adults too, for that matter) it seems to be a carbonated can of something.

Honestly, I don’t put any fluid down my throat except water and a glass of grape juice at breakfast. I drink grape juice only because years ago, the scientific community told us that red wine would help ward off heart disease. I figured it must be the grape and not the alcohol that did the deed because they never said Vodka would do you any good. So, I started drinking pure grape juice. Sure enough, years later, it was declared that red grape juice would provide the same benefit as red wine.

Restaurants that depend on making a profit with $2 glasses of iced tea or cups of coffee lose out when I order. The very thought — paying for iced tea? A tall glass of this Southern nectar used to be an entitlement. It came with the meal, for heaven’s sake!

I will have to admit that economics had more to do with my stopping drinking soft drinks than anything else. Many years ago, when a bottle of soda went from a nickel to a dime, I gave them up. Actually, we never did call them sodas. We referred to all bottled drinks as Coca-cola except we pronounced it “Ko-coler”. Coca-cola was generic and covered the whole gamut of drinks in a bottle and later in a can. The ultimate treat was a “fountain” coke mixed at the “drug store” from raw ingredients and crushed ice served in a DIXIE cup.

The original Cokes contained a form of cocaine. This is where the name came from and why folks could get hooked on them. In many Southern areas, the drinks were called “Dopes” and cotton mills throughout Dixie allowed a vendor to roll a “Dope Wagon” down the aisles of the mills dispensing cola drinks and headache powders to those with the cash. I suppose the narcotic effect made the tedious drudgery more bearable.

Of course, now you can get colas in a number of varieties: caffeine-free, sugar-free, etc. Once upon a time at the “Soda Fountain”, it was possible to get a squirt of cherry syrup in a “Coke” and some folks swore by the medicinal powers of a spurt or two of Ammonia in their drink — “good for what ails you”.

When I was a kid, Cokes and other soft drinks came in a tiny six-ounce glass bottle. That wouldn’t fill the bottom of a “Big Gulp” today when soft drinks are dispensed by the quart.

Mom would buy a six-pack (we called them “cartons”) of six-ounce Cokes and my sister and I considered it a real treat to “split one” — three ounces apiece! Royal Crown (RC) broke the mold with “ten full ounces — that’s a lot” according to the radio jingle. And people complained that the larger RCs were too much to partake of in one sitting. I knew the Royal Crown bottler in the town where I was the young editor of a local newspaper. He would go into a rage whenever someone made the statement that RCs were “too big.” He would rant, “That water fountain over there has gallons and gallons of water but you don’t have to drink it all — you stop when you’re full!”

When I was a kid, there was a local brand of cola named the “Three-Center” because it cost only three pennies. And, of course, there was the Nehi “Big Orange” available to the more adventurous souls.

A lot of people drank bottled root beer but the word “beer” had a sinister connotation and most of us Baptists wouldn’t partake of the stuff. I never did like the taste anyway.

My all-time favorite was a fruity little drink in a clear bottle called TruAde. It came in two flavors — grape and orange. It was like ambrosia to our tiny taste buds. We also occasionally bought an Orange Crush in a brown bottle which had a sharp sour taste. All sold for 5 cents each. If you took the bottle out of the store you had to pay a penny deposit. A small cottage industry arose in which kids (and adults, too) patrolled the roadsides picking up empty bottles tossed out by the folks who could afford the luxury of “throwing money away.” We would take our collections of empty bottles back to the store and cash them in for a penny apiece. Five empty bottles bought another six-ounce Coke.

So, who has a good word for soft drinks? Nobody it seems. But that doesn’t keep folks from inhaling huge quantities on a regular basis. And just get fatter and fatter.

The next thing you know some federally subsidized research will tell us that candy and other sweets are bad for the human body. Oh that’s right. They already did. But federal studies didn’t stop everybody from smoking, so, I don’t suppose soft drinks or candy are going to see their final days any time soon either.

Grandma was right, “It’ll rot your teeth out!”

John Brock lives in Georgetown County and can be reached by mail at this newspaper or via Email at: brock@johnbrock.com.

Opinions that appear on this page in Letters to the Editor or in columns do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.

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