With the upcoming release of the movie “Fed Up” with Katie Couric (http://bit.ly/1m60mlD) I feel it’s time to review some of the current information on soda, sugar, obesity and the role of the microbiome (the trillion residents of our insides). The first observation to consider is that drinking soda with meals is a direct predictor of weight gain due to the extreme sugar content of soda. Indeed, the intake of sugar sweetened soda has been known to be causative of weight gain and obesity for several years, yet its intake has not been curtailed particularly among youth. Half of the empty calories in 2-18 year olds comes from only six foods: soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza, and whole milk. The changes that come from empty calories and in particular sugar are due to the effect of the diet on the intestinal microbiome, a fact that is highlighted by the observation that a survey of the microbiome can predict how easily the person will lose weight! The effect also carries over to obesity, cholesterol levels, and liver cancer though that is the subject of another post coming up. What’s the lesson? Perhaps that parents should take an active role in teaching their children to avoid sugars and soda, and that those who influence our children should also. Perhaps when athletic coaches are driving a team home late at night, stopping for fast food (high in sugar) and sodas (super high in sugar) is not a good idea. Sorry, coaches, but…if you’re trying to make kids perform better in their sports, part of that is teaching them to be healthier-and this relates directly to what they eat or drink! All of us need to work harder at avoiding sugar, as the average person in the US now consumes 152 lbs of sugar per year. The rate of obesity and the diseases it causes continues to rise, and predictions are dire when looking at how this trend could continue in the future. In view of the effects described above, it is no wonder that the obesity rate and disease incidence have skyrocketed! Remember the people in the movie “Wally?” Great, funny animated movie with some real messages!