“I believe soda is the next tobacco,” said Barry Popkin, director of the University of North Carolina’s Interdisciplinary Obesity Center and author of The World is Fat, published this year. Soda drinkers haven’t achieved pariah status like smokers before them, but proposed sugar taxes and social pressure to be healthy can put a damper on drinking softdrinks — and even some in the growing ranks of diet pop drinkers are feeling soda shame.

According to Popkin, Americans are consuming up to 300 more calories per day now than they were 25 to 30 years ago, and two-thirds of that increase is from caloric beverages like soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit juice and milk. While milk has important vitamins and minerals, the sugary beverages “have no health benefits,” Popkin said. And studies show people who drink caloric beverages don’t compensate by cutting out other food, so the calories add up, he said.

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