Putting the Brakes on Soda: Helping Kids Make Healthier Drink ChoicesOct 8, 2013
The health facts on soda aren't a secret: The sugary conncoctions aren't good for kids. Yet children in the U.S. drink the calorie-loaded beverage by the gallon. How can you help your child make healthier choices? Dr. Cindy Gellner from the University of Utah shares tips for ditching the carbonated beverage for good.
Dr. Cindy Gellner: Sugary drinks. Are they really as bad as everyone says? The answer is, "Yes." I'm Dr. Cindy Gellner, and that's next on The Scope.
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Dr. Cindy Gellner: Do your children beg you for sugary drinks like sodas and juice? You may want to think again before you just give in, and here's why. Sugary drinks are mostly high fructose corn syrup, and they can add a ton more sugar to your child's diet than you'd ever imagine.
Two examples. Mountain Dew, 20 ounce bottles of Mountain Dew, the kind that you'd normally get at the convenience store, 275 calories in one 20 ounce bottle, and 18 teaspoons of sugar. That means take one of your spoons that you would eat cereal with and take 18 of them. Put them in a bottle and drink it. That's what you're doing.
Hawaiian Punch, it's fruit punch, 20 ounces, 300 calories and 17 teaspoons of sugar. People always say, "But it says 100% juice on it." Look at it this way. 100% apple juice, 15 ounces of 100% apple juice has 220 calories and 11 spoons of sugar.
The consumption of sugary drinks has increased dramatically in the past 20 years. Now, there is such a high intake of sugary drinks, and that's contributing to the problem of childhood obesity. It's scientifically proven there's a direct link between sugary drinks and childhood obesity.
There are so many health problems associated with obesity. A lot of kids are now having what's called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, something we normally saw in adults. And now we're seeing fat in their livers, again, because sugar gets converted into fat in the liver.
We are seeing cholesterol problems. There are lots of issues with that. That's a factor that goes along with obesity. If you have asthma, your weight can be directly correlated to your asthma symptoms. Children who are more overweight tend to have more asthma problems.
Kids also tend to have less exercise tolerance if they're overweight. Don't forget bullying. Kids get bullied a lot of they're overweight.
So there's a lot of things, not just the weight on the scale itself that you need to think about when you're looking at your children's diets. Not only do they contribute to obesity problems, but they also increase your body's burden in terms of breaking down the sugar.
Your body can only handle so much. Insulin, which is a hormone made in your pancreas, tries to break down all of the sugar in your body. Well, what happens when there's too much sugar for the insulin to break down? The leftover sugar goes to your liver, and it gets turned into fat.
And if your pancreas is really having a hard time pumping that insulin out, your body is going to start becoming insulin- resistant. You're not going to be able to break down the sugar like you used to, and that is the precursor for diabetes.
It's really hard for kids to escape sugary drinks. The advertising is everywhere. Sugary drinks are heavily consumed because the companies are so good at promoting their products. They're everywhere. They're in stores. They're in restaurants. They're in gas stations. Vending machines. Anywhere you look, you're going to find a soda machine.
Soda companies spend $700 million on media advertising each year. Hundreds of millions more on other promotional activities, like, you see actors promoting their favorite soft drink or athletes promoting their favorite sports drink. Sports drinks have a lot of sugar, too.
Don't discount them. Look at the label on the back of that bottle. It's going to tell you how much sugar there is and how many calories. It's going to surprise you.
It's a tough battle to fight. The first thing you can do is don't have it in your house. That's the biggest thing. Soda and juice have really no nutritional value. They are liquid candy. It adds calories, and it really doesn't give your child any of the nutrients that they need.
So if your child is absolutely begging you for sugary drinks, the first thing you're going to is say, "Hey, let's try something healthier. Let's make our bones stronger and have some milk."
Water. If your children are okay with drinking just plain water, and if not, make it fun. Put some frozen fruit in your water. That not only makes it colder, but it also gives it a little fruity flavor. Put some lemon in there. Do something that's going to make it fun without having all the sugar.
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