Did you know: The typical Hoosier child drinks enough sugary drinks each year to fill the average 30-gallon bathtub? That’s why Top 10, a local coalition committed to improving the health of Indianapolis residents, recently launched a “Rethink Your Drink” campaign to encourage people to choose drinks without added sugars.
“Indy’s kids are sweet enough,” says Rhonda Bayless, executive director of Center for Wellness and Urban Women, a member of Top 10. “None of us would encourage our kids to drink that much sugar, but many of us do so without realizing how much sugar is hidden in many popular drinks.”
Hidden Sugar in Many Popular Drinks
Sugary drinks include sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit juices and sweetened teas and coffees.
“Most of us know that sodas contain sugar,” Bayless says, “but most of us don’t realize how much sugar. Just one 12-ounce can of soda often contains as much as 9 teaspoons of sugar. That’s like eating four glazed donuts.”
Other drinks — some even marketed as good for you — are also loaded with sugar. For instance, a 20-ounce sports drink also contains approximately 9 teaspoons of sugar, and many fruit drinks are loaded with added sugars.
“The American Heart Association recommends that kids limit added sugars to 25 grams per day [about 6 teaspoons], and almost all sugary drinks are over this daily limit,” says Julie Pike, a registered dietician with Riley Children’s Health, also a Top 10 member. “In fact, sugary drinks are the largest source of calories and added sugar in kids’ diets. Even drinking one sugary drink a day significantly increases the risk for obesity and Type-2 diabetes.”
The Health Costs of Sugar
In Marion County, 40 percent of our youth are either overweight or obese. “Certainly, the amount of added sugars, especially liquid sugar, in their diet plays a large role in that,” Pike says.
Too much sugar leads to other problems as well, including higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and tooth decay.
“Healthier drink options include water and low-fat milk,” Pike says. “When you’re at the grocery store, take a look at the nutrition facts label on the back of the package. You want the ‘added sugar’ to be zero. And if you’re out at a restaurant, opt for water, low-fat milk or unsweetened tea.”