Sugary drinks & childhood obesity – what you can do to help your child
Obesity-related illness is higher than ever throughout the Westernised world, and it’s becoming more of a problem for our children.
Obesity is fast becoming a health crisis; it’s a high risk factor for many serious illnesses, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and stroke.
The majority of research shows that sugarsweetened drinks are strongly linked to weight gain, so cracking down on these is one of the simplest ways to reduce the risk of children becoming obese.
Sugary drinks include soft drinks, energy drinks, and flavoured waters. They have little or no nutritional benefit, and can contain a shocking amount of sugar. Generally people know about the dangers these pose to their teeth and gum health, but may be unaware of the sheer volume of empty kilojoules they’re drinking.
These highly sweetened drinks – which often also contain caffeine and assorted additives – can be addictive, and it’s easy for kids to get hooked on them. However there are some simple ways to break the habit and reduce your family’s consumption.
HOW TO CUT OUT SUGARY DRINKS
First, remove the temptation – don’t keep sweet drinks in the home.
Getting everyone into the habit of drinking water is the best option, although it may not be easy. Try sparkling water, adding a slice of fruit, mint leaves, or cucumber to make it appealing. Milk or healthy milk alternatives are also a good choice.
Avoid drinks containing artificial sweeteners as they won’t help break the sugar habit. Fruit juices may not be the healthy alternative they seem either – they have a high sugar content and relatively low nutrients.
Remember young children can only consume what you give to them, so you can ensure they eat healthily. As children get older, education is important. It’s not always easy to get teenagers to take health risks seriously. Giving them the right information and ensuring they understand the seriousness of a poor diet is a good start.
We don’t need sugary drinks and it’s best to avoid them altogether. If your child is already keen on them, expect some resistance, be patient, lead by example, and know that you’re doing your best for your family’s health.