Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Give Up Soda, Lose Weight

America's huge appetite for soda leads to some nasty consequences, with two of the most undesirable being:
  • the billions of plastic soda bottles and plastic-lined soda cans heading straight for the landfill
  • our ever-expanding wastelines
Now, the average American probably isn't thinking too much about the first consequence, but the second one is extremely important for most people.

So let's imagine a "what if"...

How much weight would Americans lose if they gave up soda?

Let's start with the stats:
And here's the math (Let's hope I get this right. If not, please correct me!):
  • 10.26 billion cases/300 million people = 34.2 cases/person in 2005
  • 34.2 cases * 192 ounces = 6,566 ounces of soda/person
  • 6,566 ounces of soda * .296 of diet = 1,944 ounces of diet soda per yer
  • 6,566 ounces total - 1944 ounces diet = 4,622 ounces of regular soda
  • 4,622 ounces of regular soda / 12 months = 385 ounces of regular soda per month
  • 385 ounces of regular soda / 12 ounces per can = 32 cans of regular soda per month
  • 32 cans of regular soda * 146 calories per can = 4,672 calories from soda per month
  • 4,672 calories from soda/3,500 calories (the deficit required to lose a pound) = 1.3
What does this mean?

That if we collectively gave up pop and replaced it with water, which has zero calories and creates zero waste, the average American would lose 1.3 pounds a month, or 15.6 pounds each year.

In other words, America would lose 4.7 billion pounds of fat each year.


Neal said...

If we collectively gave up soda and replaced it with coffee (which also has zero calories), I suspect we'd lose a lot of weight. :)

LifeLessPlastic said...

True that, although I'll still say that coffee is significantly less environmentally friendly than water. Still, it's delicious and I love it so!

N. & J. said...

Most people wouldn't lose weight on coffee since they add sugar, creamer, etc to it to make it taste better.

I don't think I'll give up soda entirely but I rarely have it and we never buy it to stock the fridge anymore.



LifeLessPlastic said...

I personally usually put a dash of milk in my coffee, but I'm sure there are lots of people out there using lots of cream and sugar. Still it's interesting to note that in one can of soda there are around 10 teaspoons of sugar, which would be a lot for a cup of coffee . As for giving soda, it is definitely tough. I'm trying my hardest and I guess I'm down to one can every 3 or 4 weeks, which isn't so bad.

Joyce said...

I think your post should be taped to the front of every vending machine! Those are amazing figures! I had cut way back, but this motivates me to just give it up altogether. Thanks! (Glad it was you doing that math, not me!)

Anonymous said...

It's also pretty horrible for your TEETH! I just ran into that nasty surprise when I went to the dentist on Tuesday. I'd been planning on eventually giving up soda because of the plastic can liner, but kept putting it off in favor of other changes, because I'm a Coke addict (4-5 cans/day). After hearing the word "decalcification" applied to my teeth, though - no more!


Reenie Beanie said...

Your calculations assume that everyone drinks soda (or pop as you call it)...even babies!! Lol!

LifeLessPlastic said...

Reenie, That's true. Obviously, it would be interestimg to figure out exactly how many people actually drink soda in the first place so I could figure out how much non-diet soda drinkers would actually lose. Unfortunately, I couldn't find that data the other day.

Oh, and obviously, the average weight loss would be higher if I factored the fact that some people don't drink soda...

Anonymous said...

Does a can have 146 calories or 155? Will I lose 13 or 14 pounds? :)

LifeLessPlastic said...

Anonymous, I was just using the information I found on the coke website, which says that in the United States there are 97 calories in 8 ounces of coke (note that this changes depending on which country you're in). That means there there are 146 calories in 12 ounces of coke (rounded up from 145.5).

The amount of weight you will lose obviously depends on how many cans of coke you drink in a month. If you drink one can per day and give up soda completely, you should lose between 15 to 16 pounds in a year (although I'm sure this can vary based on other factors like body size and metabolism). If drink two cans per day, you may lose up to 31 pounds in a year.

Note: I'm not a nutritionist or doctor, but based on the math, this should work.

Anonymous said...

I just meant that you switch between 146 and 155 calories/can in your math. Maybe I would lose a couple of pounds less than you calculated. Darn. Although, who are these people that drink that much soda? Esp. considering the number that don't drink any!

LifeLessPlastic said...

Oops! Sorry about that. The end result of 15.6 pounds in weight loss is actually correct. When I wrote out the math originally, I used 155 calories for an average soda, but after a little research I discovered that there are only 146 calories in a can of coke so I recalculated by hand and then changed the post. Apparently I missed a few numbers but still put down the correct result (I knew I wouldn't escape that post without making a mistake. Thanks for pointing it out for me so I could repair it :-) )

LifeLessPlastic said...

Oh, and in response to your rhetorical question about who is drinking all the soda, I have two words: Big Gulp.

Or maybe I should use three words: Super Big Gulp.

The volumes on gas station drinks is insane. Absolutely insane.

Actually, that brings me to an idea I've been thinking about lately. One of these huge gas station companies should start a chain of stations that sells healthier foods. Ya know, granola and fruit and has a salad bar and all that kind of stuff. They could even sell lots of froofy upscale foods, too, that probably have good margins. I mean, all gas stations are the same, so wouldn't a company do well if they differentiated themselves somehow? Seriously, I would force my friends to drive 20 extra miles to go to a gas station with healthy food...

DaForeigner said...

Stumbled across your site by chance. I like the way you have things set up, and how you outline your research. Nicely done! I try not to drink sodas to often...my big down side is that I enjoy a soda with my meals. If I'm usually just "thirsty" I tend not to drink a soda, but of course there are slip ups :P

I have also started to pick up my work out routine again...not that I necessarily need to loose weight (6'2" 175), but just to feel more in shape. I'm sure if I could manage to cut out the soda and replace it with water it would help speed up the process.

Take it easy, and I will be back to keep reading more!


Holly said...

I admit it, I'm a soda addict... I'm working on it.

Has anyone read The Omnivore's Dilemma? Soda/high fructose corn syrup/corn is terrible!

I work at a honeybee research lab and we're investigating HMF (hydromethylfurfural which is produced from fructose) as a possible toxin to the bees. It's showing up in the high fructose corn syrup that's being fed to the bees and killing them. They're saying it's possibly a carcinogen, and we drink that!!

Anonymous said...

Your statistics are correct. Before I even found your Blog, I gave up drinking all carbonated soft drinks and drank water instead, gave up fast food and only cooked meats onm my George F grill, steamed veggies and fresh fruits for 2 months and lost 20 pounds.

Water! Water! Water! To find out how much water to consume per day, take your weight and divide by 2. This total is the ounces per day to consume. So... for a 160 pound individual, the total ounces of water required is 80 ounces. If you are currently drinking 4 - 20 ounce bottles of soft drinks now...drink 4 - 20 ounce bottles of water instead! 80 ounces doesn't seem like such a high figure now does it!

Buy-U-Gifts - read how to supplement your fruit and vegetable intake of the required 9 servings per day to stay even healthier!

ojibway said...

I know it the USA you have a tremendous weight problem and so do we in the UK!
But if you think about how much more energy must be required to shift all that weight around too! I have often wondered why airlines don't charge people on weight and worry less about luggage!
The extra gas needed to move people around in their cars, the extra food required to feed the 'heavy' people. And ofcourse, the energy required to deliver all that fizz to the stores and vending machines! - I could go on!

Anonymous said...

I've lost 30 pounds for giving up soda haha

it's been since may 08

I can fit into my high school clothes again!

F. Belt said...

Sorry about that. The end result of 15.6 pounds in weight loss is actually correct. When I wrote out the math originally, I used 155 calories for an average soda, but after a little research I discovered that there are only 146 calories in a can of coke so I recalculated by hand and then changed the post. Apparently I missed a few numbers but still put down the correct result (I knew I wouldn't escape that post without making a mistake. Thanks for pointing it out for me so I could repair it :-) )

Anonymous said...

i came to read about giving up soda or pop for health reasons. but now it makes me also glad cause of the plastic i am not wasting. and by the way you are very beautiful!!!! : )

Bekki W said...

Pop is so bad for your health besides the sugar. The carbonation paralyzes your immune system and stops your body from absorbing any nutrients for 12 hours!! I gave up pop 4 months ago as soon as I found that out. I don't miss it one bit and love the fact that my waist line is getting smaller. I drink water and tea.

Lolo said...

Giving up soda really makes you lose weight!!! I have been in dance, zumba, kick boxing, and all sorts of fitness centers but never lose one pound in my life.. Last January I gave up soda and I've lose 6 pounds!! Now I've given up all carbonated beverages!! And the crazy thing is.. you don't miss soda like you would think you do