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America’s on a Sugar High!

When you were a wee lad, do you remember drinking pop, sweetened water, fruit beverages (not the 100% juices!) or sport drinks? Although I don’t really remember, I’m certain that even if I did, it was only during special occasions or outings.

Things are different today. According to CNN, half of America’s population over 2 years old have their hands on the shiny-labelled barrels of sugar – every single day. Male teens, in particular, consume the most, clocking in around 260 calories per day from sugary drinks… more than half of the weekly recommended intake of 450 calories!

This is a problem. This is one of the major causes of obesity and type II diabetes.

In spite of the obvious evidence, beverage companies rebut these claims with some market data:

“Sugar beverages only account for 7% in the average American diet”

But, these drinks still displace other nutritious (and lower calorie) beverages, often leading to an excess intake of empty Calories!

FACT: Every excess of 3500 Calories leads to 1 pound of weight gain. An extra 115 Calories per day could add an extra pound per month! A can of Coke is 120 Calories…

To test the effectiveness of environmental and educational intervention in overweight prevention, German researchers had a bunch of water fountains installed in 17 elementary schools and educated students on the importance of hydration while 15 other schools served as the control group. The results were:

  • No significant change in body mass index
  • No significant change in soda consumption
  • Significant increase in water consumption in the treatment group

You may be thinking,

“The kids didn’t stop drinking pop and they didn’t lose weight so the experiment failed.”

Well, the education promoted water consumption, rather than striking down soda guzzling. Furthermore, elementary kids are at a stage where they’re supposed to grow, not shrink. Above all, the German researchers have associated the increase in water intake with a 30% decrease in risk of becoming overweight.

There was another study that strictly focused on reducing soda consumption, which “resulted in a reduced prevalence of overweight after 12 months.” However, the effects diminished after two years.

In light of this, maybe we should teach kids what to eat, rather than what not to eat. Maybe we should make water more available in school, rather than remove soda from the vending machines.

Seriously.

Have you ever noticed that many elementary teachers disallow drinking in class, even water? Have you ever noticed that a can of pop is actually cheaper than bottled water? These are just some of the things that make it more and more difficult for the younger generation to make healthier choices.

Nevertheless, there is a solution: Parents teaching their children about healthy living and packing nutritious lunches and snacks for them. While typing this, I can imagine some parents shouting,

“We have full-time jobs, we don’t have time to pack a lunchbox!”

Well, do you expect younglings to make the right decision? Do you expect them to pick a carrot over a sugar dynamite wrapped in shiny foil? Make some time because every orange or every pizza is shaping your child’s future.


Sources:

Half of Americans Sip Sugary Drinks Daily
http://www.cnn.com/2011/08/31/health/soda-drinking-habits/index.html

Promotion and Provision of Drinking Water in Schools for Overweight Prevention:  Randomized, Controlled Cluster Trial
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/123/4/e661.full

About The Author

Curtis Ng Hello! I'm a UBC Dietetics Major, which is ironic because pizzas and fries were the staple foods of my high school diet. In 2011, I started Foodobyte as a means to express my passion for food, nutrition and photography.

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