Q&A with Dr. Savita Sachin Thorat - We asked one local physician to weigh in on the weight issue.

We asked one local physician to weigh in on the weight issue.

Dr. Savita Sachin Thorat is a family physician at the Mercy Clinic in Rolla. She is a graduate of the Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences and completed her residency at the University of Minnesota.

Q: Is soda really all that bad for you?

A: Soda contains empty calories in the form of sugar, added salt, and has no nutritive value (vitamins, anti-oxidants etc.) therefore is not a healthy drink. (Sugar, which is a disaccharide (means contains two sugar molecules), contains glucose and fructose. Glucose is necessary as an energy source for all cells. Fructose is an uncommon source of energy. Fructose is metabolized differently in human body, and promotes fat deposition.)

Q: Is soda contributing to America's obesity?

A: Soda (with its high sugar content), high fat diets (meat, eggs and dairy products) and cooking oil play an important role in obesity in Americans. Sedentary lifestyle also plays some role in obesity.

Q: Is diet soda any better for you than regular soda?

A: People who drink diet soda are more likely to eat/drink high calorie foods to compensate for the low calorie drinks. Review studies on diet soda show that it is associated with weight gain. More research is needed for definitive answers.

Q: Will posting calorie information on restaurant menus impact people's selections?

A: Posting calorie information on restaurant menus may influence people’s behavior. Evidence-based nutrition education to students and adults is necessary for a more meaningful change in people’s choices.

Q: What else can parents and health experts do to keep our communities healthy?

A: Diet and exercise can prevent many of the health problems. Limiting high fat, fried foods and sugar intake is an important step toward good health. Increasing fruits, vegetables, grains and lentils also helps. Engage in daily exercise like walking, jogging, etc. Parents are recommended to implement these changes in their lifestyle so children can follow them.