Healthy America: How much soda pop is too much?

Mississippi was identified as the 2010 most unhealthy state in the nation with the average person consuming 82 gallons of soda and 113 pounds of sweet snacks per year. But is 82 gallons of soda really a lot? According to www.publichealthadvocacy.org, the average American consumes 50 gallons of soda and other sweetened beverages each year. An average can of soda equals 12 ounces. If a person drinks 2.5 cans of pop a day, they will consume just over 82 gallons a year. I drank two liters yesterday, so I consume way more than a Mississippian.

Jamie Oliver's Wish“Diet related disease is the largest killer in the US today,” Jamie Oliver tells us. “10% of health care is spent on obesity ($150 billion per year).” Oliver went to Huntington, West Virgina, the most unhealthy state in 2009, to address the serious problem of obesity and poor diet in America’s schools. Oliver told the audience at Ted that the last three generations of folks in Huntington were not taught to cook at home. The children he visited in West Virgina couldn’t even name fresh produce from beets to potatoes because they are not exposed to these foods at home or school.

“One-fifth of children under two drink soda,” says Ellen Gustafson of the FEED bag project, and 49 million Americans go hungry. “Half of the food produced in the US is thrown away,” Carolyn Steel announced during a Ted Talk where she spoke on the topic of sustainable agriculture. Gustafson points out there are one million people over weight and one million who go hungry. “The food system in the last 30 years has shifted,” says Gustafson, and it “affects hunger and obesity.”

There are amazing people all around the world tacking the problem of obesity and hunger. The two are interrelated and it takes education and activism to get the word out and make a difference in people’s lives, both in America and around the world.

Through conscientiousness and a greater level of awareness, each of us can impact the food system by making healthier choices in our lives. But not everyone can or will make these type of life changes and we cannot force anyone. What can happen, however, is regulatory change like New York’s request to remove soda pop and other sweetened drinks from the list of acceptable foods that can be purchased with SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program aka food stamps).

Soda and Candy in America

Top 10 most unhealthy states in 2010:
1. Mississippi
2. Alabama
3. Missouri
4.  Kansas
5. Oklahoma
6. Nevada
7. South Dakota
8. Ohio
9. Arizona
10. New Mexico

The criteria used to rank these states include:
Grocery Stores Per 1,000 Residents
Amount Spent on Fast Food Per Capita (per person)
Gallons of Soft Drinks Purchased Per Capita (per person)
Pounds of Sweet Snacks Purchased Per Capita (per person)

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