Targeting children with sugary drinks

You’ve probably seen the recent campaigns around Boston aimed at limiting your family’s consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. A new study by Yale University shows the importance of these campaigns. Did you know that sugary drinks like soda, fruit juices, and energy drinks are the largest source of calories in a teen’s diet? Below are some of the major findings from the Yale study and some tips for keeping your kids healthy in this sugary drink-filled world!

Sugary Beverages & Your Kids

Most parents know that soda is not a healthy option for their kids, but might not realize that fruit juices and energy drinks contain large amounts of sugar, too. Did you know that an 8-ounce serving of an average fruit drink has the same amount of calories and sugar as the average soda? Some parents think drinks like Sunny D, Capri Sun, and Gatorade are healthy, but they can contain just as much sugar as sodas and juices!

Marketing Drinks to Youth

It’s no surprise that children ask to get soda at the grocery store or teens pick one up after school. Youth are often the main target of sugary drink ads, and companies spend more money marketing sugary drinks to youth than they spend on any other food category.

In 2010, teens heard 46% more radio ads for sugary beverages than adults did. The study also found that some groups of youth are targeted more than others. This past year, African-American and Latino youth saw 80 to 90 percent more TV ads for sugary drinks compared to white youth. Marketing for these beverages on Spanish-language TV has also been on the rise since 2008.

What Can You Do?

While parents can’t completely shield children from such marketing, you can try to limit the amount of sugar sweetened beverages your child drinks. Here are a few tips:

  • Make water the main drink in your home. Check out ]this article to learn how to make water your family’s preferred drink.
  • Limit portions of juice. Kids should drink  no more than 4 to 6 ounces of 100% fruit juice a day.
  • Just because a drink label says “natural” or “real”, does not mean it is healthy. Take a look at the label for sugar and calorie information. As a guide, children should eat less than 15 grams of sugar in an entire day.

You can get more information here and use this as an opportunity to talk to your child about the poor nutrition of sugary drinks. Check out videos from Boston’s Fat Smack campaign with your children here!

What do you think about the findings in this study? Tell us your thoughts below!

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