Today I am going to talk about sugary drinks, one of the big health problems our children face today. I was reading the WSJ of all things the other day and came across an article about soda sales in the US, which is the genesis of my comments today. So, sit back and let’s talk kids and sugar, shall we?
First for the good news: “Soda sales are down!!” On average, people are buying fewer bottles of soda this year than they did last year. The average soda consumption, not including soda purchased from fountains and restaurants, was only 45 gallons per person last year. That’s down from 55 gallons just a few years earlier. Pretty bad when good news is that your child only drinks 45 gallons of sugar water per year. That’s like the CEO telling the shareholders they only lost 2 billion dollars instead of the 3 billion they lost last year, or a child telling his parents he only failed 2 classes this year instead of 3 like last year. Bad news is bad news.
You probably don’t need to think too hard to think of someone you know who drinks two or three sweet drinks a day. Think of all the sugar that is put in a soda, energy drink, sweet tea, or sugary coffee drink. If a child or an adult consumes these beverages, their bodies are being bombarded with sugar. This person’s pancreas and fat cells are presented with quite a task when these drinks come their way…where does their body put all that sugar? How can I store it fast enough to keep my blood sugar down in the healthy range??? Consumption of sugary drinks has been one of the big driving for forces behind the obesity epidemic in the US and the rest of the world. So, this is great news that the consumption of sugary drinks is beginning to wane. Sort of!
I got to thinking, why do some people not drink these drinks? What is different about these people that keeps them from all that sugar? Why aren’t they like most people? Is it the cost of the drinks that put these folks off? I doubt it. Did they not know about these drinks? Of course not: the marketers of these products are too good to let that happen. Were these people just smarter than the rest of us? Did they know something that the rest of didn’t know? I doubt that.
No, the reason is… that some parent, grandparent, or coach just said ‘no.’ Some adult in a child’s life knew that these drinks were not good for their health and refused to facilitate its consumption. They simply didn’t buy them, and they only allowed drinking them in unusual circumstances like parties, travel, and maybe during illness. I think it is that simple. An adult put limits on a behavior that they knew was harmful.
So, if you want to be one of those parents who takes charge of the sugary drink issue, what do you do?
- Start by setting a good example
- Make soda a special thing, not a forbidden thing
- Educate your child why you are not in favor of them drinking a lot of sugary drinks.
- Point out when ads are using them as a target so they begin to recognize how advertisers can influence their thinking and make them want things that are not good for them
- Another incentive to change your child’s behavior can be money. Tell them when eating out, if they refrain from ordering a cold icy soda, you will instead give them the cold hard cash that you saved. Getting water instead of soda will mean some ‘coin’ in their pocket to spend as they wish. Makes them think, doesn’t it?
Ultimately, we all do what we perceive to be in our best interest…including children. Convince your children that it is in their best interest to eat and drink a healthy diet. Do whatever you can to keep your children from the addiction of sugary drinks because, in reality, you are all that stands between them and 45 gallons of sugar water a year. Think about it.
This is Dr. Paul Smolen, thanking you for listening today. I hope I gave you some knowledge you didn’t have before. Check out many more podcasts at my website: www.docsmo.com and on iTunes. This is DocSmo, hoping you can keep your child’s sweets, to an occasional treat.
Until next time.