Does drinking Rockstar make you feel like a rock star? I’ve never tried the stuff myself and don’t have an answer to that question — but I do know that a regular Rockstar habit can make you look like the Foursquare mayor of your local Krispy Kreme store.
Why? A single can of Rockstar has as much sugar as a half dozen Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Doughnuts.
Granted, the donuts have more fat than the Rockstar. Still, the 62 grams of sugar packed into a 16-ounce can of Rockstar explains why the drink made Eat This, Not That’s list of 20 Worst Drinks in America 2010.
Other drinks on the list include “water” that’ll quench your thirst with enough sugar for two Good Humor Chocolate Éclair Bars, a kids’ fruit drink that has 200 more calories than a can of Pepsi, and a very scary 2,010-calorie ice cream shake: “In terms of saturated fat, drinking this Cold Stone catastrophe is like slurping up 68 strips of bacon.”
As these comparisons illustrate, sugary drinks are a major factor in Americans’ expanding waistlines. In the New York Times, David Leonhardt explains that the average American drinks close to a gallon of sweetened beverages a week:
The typical American consumes almost three times as many calories from sugary drinks as in the late 1970s. This increase accounts for about half the total per-capita rise in calorie consumption over the same period.
These states — most notably New York and California — have spurred food manufacturers to develop healthier vending items just to remain competitive in the arena. This spring the Alliance for a Healthier Generation reported an 88 percent decrease in beverage calories shipped to schools from the first half of 2004-05 to 2009-10, mostly due to calorie reformulations and reduced container sizes.
We’re drinking more soda for several reasons. Above all, the inflation-adjusted price has fallen 34 percent since the late 1970s, largely because it can be manufactured more cheaply than in the past. Meanwhile, the average real cost of fruits and vegetables has risen more than 30 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Why does it cost more to eat fruit than drink “fruit punch”? At the root of the problem are agricultural subsidies that make high-fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners so cheap. To change this status quo, GOOD’s Peter Smith’s put out a rallying cry, asking for your help to make a salad cost less than a Big Mac.