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Charlotte Pediatric Clinic-Blakeney
6235 Blakeney Park Drive,
Charlotte, NC 28277
University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill
Hershey Medical Center
Although our bodies need sugar for energy, we don’t need 180 pounds of the sweet stuff. That’s the average amount of sugar eaten by Americans in a year. And that’s a whole lot of sweetness.
The major sources of added sugars in American diets are regular soft drinks and fruit drinks along with candy, cakes, cookies and pies. “While most parents routinely limit the amount of candy consumed by little ones, they may not be as vigilant when it comes to drinks,” said Ana-Maria Temple, MD, from Charlotte Pediatric Clinic-Blakeney, part of Carolinas HealthCare System.
As part of the 5-2-1-0 movement (5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 hours or less of recreational screen time and 1 hour or more of physical activity), the 0 stands for sugary drinks, meaning it’s best to eliminate them in favor of more water and low-fat milk (If your child is 2 or younger, whole milk is recommended).
“Cut back slowly on sugar-filled drinks, juices and sports drinks – both for children and grown-ups, and read the labels on beverages,” said Dr. Temple.
“A common misconception is that 100 percent fruit juice is healthy, that it has vitamins that kids need and is better than other juices," Dr. Temple said. “However, the process of creating these juices removes any health benefits.” First, fruits are juiced, removing pulp and peels which contain fiber. Second, the juice is boiled at 210 degrees for pasteurization (so it can last on the shelf until 2018). This heating process kills any vitamins that may be present in juice. Any nutrient mentioned on the packaging is added by the processing plant. By the time it hits the grocery shelf, sugar is the only thing left over.
For children, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 130 to 170 calories (3 to 4 teaspoons) per day of added sugar. A good rule of thumb to remember is that roughly 4 grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon of sugar.
Even drinks that sound healthy may have too much sugar. For instance, some canned teas contain more than 50 grams of sugar and most smoothies are a minefield of sugar and calories.
|Drink||Size||Total Calories||Sugar gr.||Sugar tsp.|
|Cola||20 oz||250 cal||65 g||15|
|100% Apple Juice||15.2 oz||220 cal||48 g||11|
|Energy Drinks||16 oz||200 cal||54 g||13|
|Sports Drinks||20 oz||130 cal||34 g||8|
|Vitamin Water||20 oz||125 cal||32.5 g||8|
|Water||20 oz||0 cal||0 g||0|
“Consider how frequently you or your child enjoy these beverages and what nutrition, if any, they provide. And, remember, water is the best thing to drink if you’re thirsty,” said Dr. Temple.
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