Would you be shocked to learn that nearly 20% of children and adolescents are obese? This is a relatively new phenomenon which has occurred in a mere 40 years. What could possibly account for such a dire situation?
There are of course many factors that come into play but there is one lifestyle development that has occurred had the greatest impact on this frightful situation with our kids.
That 'lifestyle development' is the rate at which children, especially adolescents, are consuming sugar sweetened beverages!
According to government statistics, our youngsters are taking in an average of 300 calories per day from drinks that have been sweetened with sugar! That's an “average” which means many are taking in more that! That's between 10 and 15% of the recommended caloric intake for many kids! In sugar!
Sugar is classified as one of the “empty calorie foods”, which means it is high in calories but low in nutrition. It has no protein or vitamins or minerals. It brings nothing “to the party” except calories (and possibly a craving for more sugar and a deterrent from eating more healthy foods).
A single 12 ounce can of soda contains a whopping 9 teaspoons of sugar! That is more than anyone needs … and how many cans of soda are your kids (and you) drinking every day?
Some people say they need sugar for energy. Well, let's look at that. All foods contain energy, and each releases it at a different rate. Sugar has nothing in it but … well, but sugar … so it is absorbed into the blood stream quickly and may indeed provide a burst of energy.
However, that energy dissipates very quickly, leaving you down and out, and in need of something else to pick you up again. It gets out of control in a real hurry.
Remember, we're talking only about sugar and weight. We're not even considering its effect on other health issues, such as nutrition, teeth, sleep and attention patterns, bone density, diabetes, headaches, caffeine addiction (because of the high levels of caffeine actually found in soft drinks), and emotional disorders, to name but a few of the many conditions in which sugar has been implicated.
The problem of obesity among our children because of sugar-sweetened beverages is a problem with an easy solution:
Stop drinking the drinks! This is of vital importance.
You can simply not allow your young children to consume these drinks. It may be more difficult convincing the teenagers. It's important because though so you will have to come up with a trade-off to make it worth their while.
Trade them sugary drinks for car time, extra privileges, more allowance, coupons to “buy their way out” of Saturday morning chores … whatever works. This is important. You owe it to your kids to help them break this bad, bad habit.
Until next time!