Are you or your kiddos struggling with a soft drink habit? Kids are especially vulnerable to the ads glamorizing sodas as well as the easy access to getting a pop whenever they are thirsty. As a busy parent, you may prefer your kids quench their own thirst in the most convenient way possible, but promoting the sugar-laden fizzy stuff can put your kids at risk for weight problems as well as health issues. ChicageHealers.com practitioner Dr. Martha Howard has a few soft drink facts to sip on while you determine healthier ways to keep your family hydrated.
Soft drinks are empty calories that quickly add up
Kids who guzzle sodas are consuming large amounts of sugar and calories. Worse, the sugary drinks can lead to chronic disease. “Sugary drinks that provide empty calories and raise blood sugar contribute to metabolic syndrome, or the combination of medical disorders that increase the risk of developing heart disease and/or diabetes,” explains Dr. Howard. ”When examining the numbers, the amount of sugar and empty calories packed into these addicting beverages is astounding.”
When your kids slurp a soda, here’s what they are drinking:
- A 12-ounce can of Coca Cola has the equivalent of 9-1/2 sugar cubes along with 140 nutrient-poor calories.
- If your kids are opting for the convenience store mega-portions of soda, they are drinking 364 empty calories and the equivalent of 23-1/2 sugar cubes with every 32-ounce Big Gulp.
Dr. Howard isn’t particularly impressed with the marketing of sodas by convenience stores. “The store 7-11 markets their sodas as ‘genetically engineered to quench even the most diabolical thirst.’” What kid wouldn’t be attracted to them?
Diet soda isn’t any better
Perhaps your kids grab diet sodas as a way to avoid the sugar and calories. But that doesn’t mean diet colas are healthy beverages. “Diet sodas are just as bad, if not worse than regular sodas because the majority of diet sodas contain the no-calorie sweetener aspartame, a sweetener that has been scientifically proven to increase appetite,” Dr. Howard warns.
Dr. Howard advises adults and kids alike to steer clear of diet colas because:
- Diet colas are associated with an increased appetite.
- Aspartame is a neurotoxin because it breaks down into methanol once in the body.
- Methanol in the body breaks down into formaldehyde.
“Even if only 10 percent of the formaldehyde produced from a aspartame-sweetened cola is retained in the body, the amount retained from drinking two diet sodas would be 20 times the EPA-approved amount of formaldehyde in drinking water,” adds the health expert.
So what drinks are safe to consume? Dr. Howard advises that filtered water is always the best drink option. To appeal to children with a sweet tooth, she suggests adding fresh fruit to water to give it flavor and sweetness. For kids that need fizz, try combining two ounces of 100 percent fruit juice in a glass with sparkling water. Healthy drinks don’t need a lot of prep and really can be quick and easy options for families on the go.