We hear stories all the time about what foods are “good” or “bad” for us, such as the idea that foods high in dietary fat will lead to heart disease. But recent studies have shown that there was no evidence to support the low-fat message. Every time we read the news, it seems that there is a new “superfood” and a new “villain” in the story of our health.

Recently, added sugars have been cast in the role of the villain. Activists and “health bloggers” have mounted campaigns against soft drinks – which have been enjoyed by Americans for well over 100 years. But what is the reality behind this assault?

Much like the dietary ideals of the past, the attack on added sugars is not founded on the totality of scientific evidence. Added sugars are derided as villainous for their supposed unique ability to contribute to weight gain, when in truth scientific evidence shows that sugars of any kind are no more likely to contribute to weight gain than any other sources of calories.

Like past false food scares, the anti-soda campaign misleads people with unsound science.

“Jumping into population-wide experiments on nutrition sometimes works out badly. Perhaps we need a scientific consensus on added sugar guidance first,” advises an article in ConscienHealth.org.

With all the misinformation about health out there it seems that we are left with few trustworthy options. However, nutrition science states that a healthy weight is dependent on a proper balance of “calories in” and “calories out,” that is balancing the calories consumed from all food and beverages with those burned through physical activity and exercise. To suggest anything else just gets in the way of a proper understanding of how to achieve balance.

Nutrition is not as simple as “good” versus “bad” foods and beverages. Those who vilify one ingredient as the single source of public health challenges are doing a disservice to consumers and rather, should help educate people about achieving overall balance.