Tag Archives: sugar

Kids, Holidays, and Sugar (Pedcast)

Doc Smo here. Thank you for joining me today. I am fortunate to have many patients who are new immigrants to the the US.  I care for the children of many families who, just a few years ago, lived in India, China, Taiwan, Iran, France, Germany, and the UK just to mention a few. Charlotte is becoming a very diverse place, with it’s rapid growth. It is definitely not the little sleepy southern town I moved to 33 years ago. I was talking to a mother from Taiwan the other day, which happened to be a few days before Easter. She made the comment that holidays in America are very different from those she experienced where she grew up. Here, holiday always means lots of candy and sweets. When she was a child, that just wasn’t true.  Here ,every holiday is an excuse to have candy, soda, cake, ice cream etc etc. She had also noticed that children are rewarded in America for every accomplishment with candy; good grades, winning of a sporting event, birthdays, end of the school year or just about everything.  Sugar, sugar, sugar!  You can’t get out of a store without your child being tempted by a huge display of candy at the checkout counter and the frequent argument that this candy precipitates. Continue reading

Sports and Energy Drinks (Article)

Whether they play formal sports or just run around the school yard at recess, most children are active enough to need fluid replacement. Till recently, children drank water to rehydrate; in today’s world, however, active children commonly consume sports and energy drinks to rehydrate. These drinks were designed for athletes who endure extremes in physical and environmental stress, not for children playing little league baseball or a Saturday morning soccer game.  Unfortunately children are consuming too many of these sports and energy drinks, and they are not drinking enough water.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) together with the Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness (COSMF) completed a major review of sports and energy drinks literature from 2000 to 2009. This review sought to differentiate sports drinks from energy drinks, identify common ingredients, and discuss harmful effects of these drinks. This report identified that “sports drinks” contain carbohydrates (sugars), minerals, artificial flavors and colors to replace lost water during exercise;  “energy drinks” contain all the above plus stimulants such as caffeine and taurine for performance enhancement.

Do we really want our little ones drinking sports and energy drinks when all they need is water? Well-balanced diets containing carbohydrates, fats, and proteins can more than adequately replace nutrients lost during active play. Overconsumption of sports and energy drinks can cause serious problems, such as obesity, for growing children.   In addition, consuming caffeine or other stimulants can increase a child’s heart rate, disturb his or her sleep, create a physical dependence, and trigger withdrawal headaches. In 2005, the American Association of Poison Control Centers received 2600 calls related to caffeine abuse in patients younger than 19 years. Remember, the majority of the energy drinks available to young athletes contain some form of caffeine in abundance.

As children grow up, parents should encourage children to drink plenty of water.  Water truly is the perfect “sports drink” since the body is made of it and can’t run without it. Professional athletes may benefit from the consumption of sports drinks, but child athletes will best benefit from drinking water on and off the the playing field.  Let them enjoy the sweet taste of victory instead of an artificially flavored and colored bottle of salty sugar water!

 

I welcome your comments at my blog, www.docsmo.com.  Until next time.

 

Written collaboratively by Norman Spencer and Paul Smolen M.D.

Smo Notes:

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/05/25/peds.2011-0965.full.pdf

 

More…on Sugary Drinks (Pedcast)

Welcome to studio 1E in Charlotte, NC. I am your pedcast host, Dr. Paul Smolen. For those of you who are new to Dosmo.com, I am the creator and curator of this podcast, which was created for parents to have a practical, portable source of pediatric information to help them in their parenting journey. From the crib to the country club, we talk about everything imaginable here. I try to give my audience what’s new in pediatrics in my weekly articles, and I try to impart more traditional pediatric information and advice in my pedcasts…what is a pedcast, you ask? That’s a podcast with pediatric content. 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.

Smo Notes:

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6205a6.htm?s_cid=mm6205a6_e

From the desk of Doc Smo: Not all sugar is the same! (Article)

I was browsing some recent medical articles the other night, and I came across one that I found particularly interesting about the metabolic effects of glucose and fructose on our brains. Sounds boring, right? WRONG. This study may provide part of the answer to why Americans are getting so fat. Up until recently, the sugar we ate came in the form of cane sugar. Cane sugar is a mixture of two simple sugars called glucose and galactose. Food scientists back in the 60’s discovered that sugar derived from corn syrup was much sweeter and cheaper to produce than cane sugar; consequently, in came the high fructose corn syrup that is so ubiquitously used by the food industry in America. The combination of cheap and satisfying fructose based sugar was just what the processed food industry had been looking for.

I have written before about the tremendous increase in sugar consumption by much of our population during the 20th century. Sugar consumption of all sorts has gone from an occasional treat to the mainstay of our diets. We can all see the results: 60% of Americans being overweight and 30% considered obese. Sugar consumption, especially in the form of liquid beverages, is thought by many experts to be at the heart of much of this obesity. Unbelievably, one in four adults in America is now a diabetic.

Back to the study I was reading this week: the researchers found that fructose, the sugar derived from corn, biochemically reacts differently with our brains than does glucose, the sugar in cane sugar. These researchers concluded from their data that our brains are not as “satisfied” by fructose ingestion and therefore hunger is not reduced by fructose (corn sugar) as with glucose (cane sugar). Could it be that by going back to old fashioned sugar, our obsession with sweets in America might begin to go away? If something simple like putting babies to sleep on their backs can dramatically reduce crib death, why couldn’t an equally simple thing like changing the ingredients of sweetened beverages end the obesity epidemic? Something to think about.

I welcome your comments at www.docsmo.com.  While you are there, subscribe and get all my new content.  Until next time, from Dr. Paul Smolen.

Smo notes:

1.http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleID=1555133