Your health: Why you should rid sugar from your child’s diet | SierraSun.com

Your health: Why you should rid sugar from your child’s diet

Jill Whisler
Special to the Sun

Did you know: The average American consumes a quarter of a pound of sugar each day.

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages like soda daily may lead to more abdominal fat gain over time, according to a new study from the National Institute of Health.

Abdominal, or visceral, fat is located in the midsection of your body and wraps around internal organs like the liver and pancreas.

This type of fat is especially dangerous because it affects the function of hormones like insulin. Insulin dysfunction, and insulin resistance, is closely tied to type 2 diabetes and heart disease risk.

The study looked at body fat distribution, and found that all participants tended to gain abdominal fat over time, but those who drank sugary beverages daily gained more.

The researchers used data from about 1,000 adult participants in the Framingham Heart Study, who consumed sugar-sweetened beverages like regular soda, sweetened coffee drinks, energy drinks, lemonade, teas and fruit juice that can have added sucrose or high fructose corn syrup.

Over a six-year period, intake of sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with a 1.8-pound increase of abdominal fat. Diet soda wasn't linked to an increase in visceral fat.

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But I don't drink soda and don't let my children. Other beverages such as sweetened tea, sports drinks, fruit drinks and even coffee drinks are also very high in sugar.

Did you know that the average 16 oz. mocha found at our coffee shops contains as much sugar as soda pop?! That's more than a chocolate bar. Yet we may not think twice about letting our kids consume hot cocoa compared to a chocolate cookie.

The average American consumes a quarter of a pound of sugar each day. That is 28 sugar cubes.

The American Heart Association recommends a limit of 100 calories per day of added sugars, such as those found in sugar-sweetened beverages, for most women, and 150 calories per day for most men. Drinking one 12 oz. soft drink a day would exceed that amount.

What about fruit? Fruit is fine — but we should think twice before drinking juice. The fiber in whole fruit contributes to a sense of fullness. It is rare to eat more than one orange, but it is common for us to consume much more sugar and calories as orange juice.

What do we do for our children?

Teach our children about sugar-sweetened beverages. The sales of sugar-sweetened beverages have surpassed pizza. It's time to start getting serious.

Portions. The recommended limit for added sugar is equal to an 8 oz. soda a day. Are we really just having a "cup" of sweetened coffee — or a mug bigger than our heads?

Jill Whisler, MS, RD, a member of the B-Fit Team and a Wellness Dietitian for Tahoe Forest Health System. B-FIT is supported by Tahoe Forest Community Health and the Wellness Neighborhood, helping you Rethink Healthy. For more information, contact Jill at 530-587-3767.