New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to ban the sale of super-sized soft drinks by restaurants, movie theaters and other venues has created a storm of controversy. As the latest – and most extreme – action in his crusade against obesity, the mayor’s motives are noble, but his approach sets off a heated debate about improving health (and keeping healthcare costs down) and individual choice.

No matter what your opinion on banning soft drink servings that could float a battleship, scientific research conducted by many organizations and institutions leaves no doubt about the detrimental health effects of soda and other sugary drinks. Even following a workout program or fitness regime isn’t likely to negate them. Here are some eye-opening facts:

People are drinking almost three times as many sugary drinks as they did 30 years ago, with Americans now drinking an average of 50 gallons per year. That equals about 40 pounds of sugar.

The average size of a soda increased from 6.5 oz. in the 1950s to 16.2 oz. today – a 149-percent increase!

A 20-ounce bottle of soda on average has more than 16 teaspoons of sugar and 240 calories. This is double the amount of added sugar recommended for an entire day based on a 2,000-calorie diet.

Almost half of the additional calories in our diet since the 1970s come from soda.

Sodas are different from other foods in that they are consumed in massive quantities, contain no nutritional value, and are clearly linked to obesity. Additionally, sugary drinks do not make people feel full, which means the calories we drink add to those we eat rather than replace them.

According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), 41 percent of children ages two to 11 drink at least one soda or other sugar-sweetened beverage every day. That number goes up to 62 percent of adolescents ages 12 to 17. Adults who drink one or more sodas or other sugar-sweetened beverages each day are 27 percent more likely to be overweight or obese.

If you’re a member of Future Fitness, you’re probably ahead of the game in following a healthy lifestyle! But if you need some advice and guidance about nutrition, be sure to take advantage of free nutritional counseling at your favorite Future Fitness location.