By Bob Condor

Kicking a daily soda habit remains one of the simplest and most positive health changes you can make. It’s also one of the hardest for some people.

Maybe you have kicked the habit, but still need some evidence to persuade a significant person in your life to do the same. DHB is here to help.

Consider an important and underreported 2007 study from researchers at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University: It found “quite a clear association between soft-drink intake and taking in more calories.”

The Yale group analyzed 88 soda studies and discovered “on days when people drink soft drinks, they consumed more calories than on days when they did not have soft drinks.”

Think about that. The same people, eating more on soda days compared to non-soda days. It was calories from the soda (which were sugared) but additional calories from more food consumed.

A hot topic in nutrition circles is whether pure cane sugar in your soda is any healthier than the high fructose corn syrup found in most sodas. This corn sweetener is considered a major culprit in America’s obesity epidemic. Best-selling author Michael Pollan is leading that crusade with excellent books and articles in the New York Times Magazine.

But, hey, there’s always diet soda, right?

Uh, wrong. Food scientists at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio showed that 57 percent of people who drank two or more cans of diet soda per day become overweight in an average of eight years, compared with 47 percent of volunteers in the study who drank regular soda.

As it turns out, diet sodas might pack an even bigger caffeine jolt than sugared varieties (which typically contain about 10 teaspoons of white sugar, enough to question that second can of the day, and the first, too). A 2007 Auburn University study listed Pepsi One as the national-brand cola with the highest caffeine count, 57 milligrams in 12 ounces. For reference, a shot of espresso is roughly 50 milligrams and 8 ounces of drip coffee ranges from 115 to 175 milligrams.

Diet Coke checked in at 47 milligrams while Diet Pepsi measured 36 milligrams, about the same as Coke Zero. Regular Pepsi was 39 and original Coca-Cola was 34 milligrams. Diet Sunkist orange and regular Sunkist orange were found to have 41 and 40 milligrams of caffeine, respectively.

OK, that’s enough evidence to argue against sodas. Here are some practical suggestions on kicking your soda habits from Wahida Karmally, a long-time nutritionist at Columbia University in New York. She said when her clients stop the daily they “feel more energy, sleep better and foods even taste better.”

–You don’t have to do it all at once. If you normally drink two cans a day, then cut it down to one. Have a yogurt or non-fat milk — even chocolate or other flavors — when you would normally have the second soda.

— Fill up a 20 ounce water bottle, drink it before lunch. Fill it up again after lunch and drain before dinner. If you must, use sparkling water and splash of juice for the afternoon drink.

— Don’t stock soda at home for yourself or your family. Set a weekly limit, such as one or two. Wipe out all supersize orders from your beverage mindset. Keep your soda splurge to the 12-ounce variety, or even one of those stubby 6-ouncers. You can still get a treat without the sugar or artificial sweetener whallop. Most of all, keep “daily” and “soda” out of the same sentence in your life.

Look for an upcoming DHB entry on some surprise reasons on why drinking enough water can be an all-time superstar change agent for health.

“Bob Condor is the Daily Health Blogger for Barton Publishing. He is also the Living Well columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He covers natural health and quality of life issues and writes regularly for national magazines, including Life, Esquire, Parade, Self, and Outside. He is a former syndicated health columnist for the Chicago Tribune and author of six books, including “The Good Mood Diet” and “Your Prostate Cancer Survivors’ Guide.” He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and two 11-year-old kids.”