[Dr. Jamie Felzer, ABC NEWS- March 25th, 2019]:- Two of the United States’ most prominent health organizations issued a joint policy statement on Monday endorsing widespread public health regulations to help reduce the amount of sugary drinks that kids consume.
The statement, issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and American Heart Association (AHA), will be published in the April issue of Pediatrics. It calls for additional taxes across the country on sugary beverages and limits on marketing of these drinks to children, as well as making drinks like water and milk the default beverages on children’s menu and ensuring access to healthy foods through federal nutrition assistance programs.
“As a nation we have to say ‘no’ to the onslaught of marketing of sugary drinks to our children,” said Rachel K. Johnson, professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Vermont and former chair of the AHA’s nutrition committee, in a statement. “We know what works to protect kids’ health and it’s time we put effective policies in place that bring down rates of sugary drink consumption just like we’ve done with tobacco.”
Why are sugary drinks bad?
Childhood obesity rates have more than tripled since the 1970s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and sugary drinks are one of the many factors that have contributed to this rise. Other factors include a lack of physical activity, poor sleep routines, and the overall consumption of higher-calorie, low-nutrition foods.
Sugary beverages are any drinks that contain added sugar. That includes not only most sodas, but fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened waters and coffee and tea beverages. There are also many different names for added sugar that might not immediately be apparent but show up on food labels, such as corn syrup, sucrose, and dextrose.
Juices can also be made with added sugars on top of the natural sugars already present in the fruits. They should not be given to kids under a year old and given in limited quantities to toddlers, according to the AAP. Instead of juice, consider eating whole fruits for their maximum nutritional value with fiber.
“For children, the biggest source of added sugars often is not what they eat, it’s what they drink,” Dr. Natalie D. Muth, a pediatrician and lead author of the policy statement, told ABC News.
Muth said that on average, children consume over 30 gallons of sugary drinks each year — that’s a bathtub full of sugar — and that 17 percent of kids are getting their daily recommended amount of calories from sugary drinks rather than nutrient-dense foods.
“As a pediatrician, I am concerned that these sweetened drinks pose real — and preventable — risks to our children’s health, including tooth decay, diabetes, obesity and heart disease,” Muth said.
In a statement from the American Beverage Association (ABA), the trade group that represents the large non-alcoholic beverage companies, a spokesman told ABC News that “while soda consumption has declined by a third, the obesity rates have increased by a quarter, so if obesity was solely related to soda, it should’ve also gone down if they were directly correlated.”