Do you know what is in that?
Childhood obesity is one of the country’s biggest health problems of the 21st Century and there is truly no cure. In an article produced by the American Society for Nutrition they discuss how obesity is the result of interactions between factors such as genetics, cultures, environments, socioeconomic status and behaviors. These factors are the reasons why people eat what they eat and more specifically is the consumption of sugar. For most Americans the main source of added sugar consumption comes from their intake of sugary drinks. This unfortunately makes sugary drinks one of the leading causes of childhood obesity.
Sugary drinks are sold everywhere from convenient stores to school vending machines and this exposes children to the constant access and ability to consume. Due to this exposure of drinks like Gatorade and Coke these beverages are being consumed more and more every day. Based on an article written by Roderick McKinley, the average American consumes 1.6 cans of soda a day resulting in the consumption of more than 500 cans of soda in one year. Think about the one 12 ounce can of Coca-Cola, that can of soda contains 39 grams of sugar. According to an article published by Sugar Science, the average amount of added sugar a child should consume in one day is 18.5 grams however this may vary based on age, but should never be more than 25 grams a day. If a child consumes just one can of Coca-Cola a day they have already doubled their sugar intake for the day. The most concerning aspect are the calories being consumed by drinking these beverages. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend the total intake of discretional calories, including sugars and fats, should range between 5-15% per day, yet most American children consume about 16% of their intake from added sugars alone, not including fats or any other foods. Many Americans are shocked to learn these statistics. They don’t always understand where these added sugars are coming from and do not seem to realize they come from the drinks they are consuming.
These sugary drinks are often consumed without much thought into the fact that the person consuming the beverage is drinking large amounts of sugar while at the same time they are consuming a large percentage of their daily calories; not to mention doing so quickly. The problem is that many people consume more of this than their body needs. According to an advice column published by the Arch Pediatric Medical Journal, these drinks are consumed before the body has time to realize it is full, in the same way a body would when eating solid food. The World Health Organization adds to this by stating “these drinks have little nutritional value and do not provide the same feeling of fullness as solid food does, making it so they continue to consume more even though their body has had enough.” As people continue to consume these beverages they begin to exceed the amount of sugar their body needs to produce energy. Because of the over consumption the body breaks down only what it needs for energy and the rest is stored as fat. After many years of consuming too much sugar and the body continuing to turn the excess into fat, the fat continues to add up ultimately resulting in the person becoming obese. In a study conducted by the American College of Nutrition, they found that “Obese children consume significantly more servings of fats and sugary beverages than non-obese children in a study done between the two groups.” This study, along with many others of a similar nature, have helped to prove the direct correlation between obesity and sugary drinks and how this has affected the nationwide epidemic.
Childhood Obesity may never be cured due to the many different causes. The CDC currently states that childhood obesity affects about 12.7 million children. This statistic could be reduced if sugary drink consumption goes down as well. If parents become more educated and adopt healthy habits themselves, such as cutting back intake of soda, they will begin to influence their children and the children around them to do the same. There is hope that in future generations, obesity rates will decline as a result of parents educating themselves on this issue. As those children become parents, their knowledge on this topic will be extensive and they will be able to provide the healthiest nutritional options for their future children.
“Childhood Obesity Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 Nov. 2016. Web. 30 Nov. 2016
Gillis, Linda J., and Oded Bar-Or. “Food away from home, sugar-sweetened drink consumption and juvenile obesity.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 22.6 (2003): 539-545.
Johnson. “How much is too much?” Research. SugarScience.org, 30 Mar. 2014. Web. 5 Dec. 2016.
Malik, Vasanti S., Matthias B. Schulze, and Frank B. Hu. “Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 84.2 (2006): 274-288.
McKinlay, Rodrick D. “Obesity Action Coalition » Childhood Obesity: The Link to Drinks.” Childhood Obesity: The Link to Drinks Comments. Obesity Action Coalition, n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2016.
“Reducing Consumption of Sugar-sweetened Beverages to Reduce the Risk of Childhood Overweight and Obesity.” Reducing Consumption of Sugar-sweetened Beverages to Reduce the Risk of Childhood Overweight and Obesity. World Health Organization, 24 Aug. 2016. Web. 04 Dec. 2016.
Sugary Drinks and Childhood Obesity. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2009;163(4):400. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2009.16