Soda, pop, cola and Coke; whatever you call them soft drinks have become a main stream beverage in our country and are readily accessible to quench our thirst at check out lines EVERYWHERE! Confession: I’m a self proclaimed former diet soda addict. Growing up in the land of potluck dinners and southern barbecues two-liter beverages were ever present at all meals. Believe me, as a child and well into adulthood I drank my fair share of soda (and other sugar laden beverages). I myself gave up the addictive soda drinking habit many, many years ago when, with a little self-guided research, discovered I was having some nasty side effects when I didn’t get my daily dose of soda.
In my role as a mother it is my job to protect my children from an array of unhealthy and dangerous influences, and soda (along with other sugary drinks) are one of the many threats to their health and well being. A few months ago, I watched the documentary Fed Up (www.fedupmovie.com), and had I not already made the decision to not offer my children soda and other sugar sweetened beverages the information in this film would’ve sealed the deal for me. I really encourage all parents to take the time to watch Fed Up, which focused largely on the effect that soda consumption has had on the overall health of our country. When you really sit and digest them, the statistics about the effects of soft drinks on children are truly ALARMING:
- Children who consume just one soda a day increase their risk for obesity by 60%.
- One 20-ounce soda contains approximately 17 teaspoons of sugar – nearly the equivalent of the amount of sugar found in 3 candy bars.
- Children who drink one to two sugar-sweetened beverages per day have a 26% higher risk for developing type II diabetes.
- It will take 75 minutes of bike riding for a 110-pound person to burn off the calories in one 20-ounce bottle of soda.
Statistics like these make the mother in me so very unhappy and frightened for future generations. Why would we continue to offer these toxic drinks to our precious children? Sadly, it’s a matter of convenience. You can buy soda EVERYWHERE, often for much cheaper than healthier options, and it is offered in massive quantities on nearly EVERY kids menu in America. Sugar in soft drinks is just the tip of the iceberg. Other concerns include caffeine, carcinogenic chemicals, artificial dyes and sweeteners. When soda isn’t available other offenders such as lemonade, sports drinks, sweet tea and punch type drinks are all too-often offered as a substitution for healthier milk or water. Unfortunately, diet sodas also pose their own collection of health risks and are considered no better for our bodies than regular soda.
With the steady increase in the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and obesity rates rising and in our nation, we as parents have an important responsibility to set guidelines and healthy examples for our children, which can begin with something as simple as our beverage choices. Unfortunately, soda isn’t just a danger for children — it also has many of the same effects on adults.
Our innocent children don’t yet know the risk posed by these dangerous drinks and rely on their parents to keep them safe and healthy. White milk (or milk substitutes) or water are healthy options and are the standard offerings in our home. My daughter also enjoys unsweetened herbal teas, fruit infused water and the occasional treat of a small amount of 100% juice. Over the past many years, raising my awareness of this pressing issue has provided me with the determination and encouragement to make better choices for myself and to influence my family to do the same. I can only hope that in years to come parents will remain passionate about the health crisis that sodas pose, and we will begin to see a shift in the very scary statistics that have become all too normal in our society.