Beverages that contain a high sugar content are a contributing cause to the epidemic of childhood and teen obesity. What kind of beverages are your children consuming at school?
Sugar-rich drinks such as soda, sports and energy drinks, and flavored teas have become highly popular over the last decade, and particularly so among the young population. The amount of these types of beverages that are being consumed, as well as the size of those beverages, has increased greatly. Along with this increase, comes a larger risk for obesity, dental problems and diseases like type 2 diabetes.
One 12-ounce can of regular soda has around 150 calories, 40 grams of carbohydrate, and almost 40 grams of sugar! These extra calories contribute to weight gain – and extra weight is the largest cause of childhood type 2 diabetes.
When suffering from type 2 diabetes, the body does not make enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels normal or the body’s cells ignore the insulin that is produced. Insulin is needed for the body to use glucose for energy. One study has indicated that individuals that consume high amounts of sugary beverages have a 26% greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Reducing sugary beverage consumption can help improve glucose and insulin levels in children, in an effort to prevent childhood diabetes and weight gain.
Be cautious of fruit juice as well. While fruit juice is often perceived as a healthy beverage, some juices can be just as unhealthy as soda. The amount of sugar that a fruit juice contains may be as much, or more, than soft drinks and the benefits that come from vitamins in juice are outweighed by the amount of sugar.
1. Pay attention to nutrition labels when grocery shopping. Juices marketed as “100% Pure” or “Organic” may not necessarily be accurate. Read the nutrition label!
2. Don’t be fooled by the word “fruit”. “Fruit” is thought of as healthy food, and gives the mindset that items that use the word “fruit”, are healthy. Watch out for “fruit” products that are filled with added sugar and calories.
To avoid the negative effects that sugary drinks have on health, encourage children to consume sugar in moderation and to consume adequate amounts of water. Promote healthy beverage choices at home and replace sugary beverages with water, milk or real fruit and vegetable juices.