Sugar overload: Could warnings on kids’ drinks fight obesity?

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February 7, 2022 — So you’re in the Supermarket, and your child is ordering their favorite fizzy drink. But you’re trying to put your family in a healthier track this year. Do you protest initially and then give up when the tears begin to flow?

Maybe you feel like crying too. you crave the sugar rush as fast as them.

This scenario is all too common for families across the country.

Sugary drinks, such as juice, soda, decadent lattesY sports beverages, are the number 1 source of calories and added sugar in the American diet, according to the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. But new research published In the diary PLOS Medicine shows that a picture warning on your child’s favorite soda or the juice box could also influence your purchasing decisions as a parent or caregiver.

The new study of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that parents were 17% less likely to buy sugar drinks for your kids when drinks had picture health warnings about the products

The researchers turned a lab setting into a “mini-mart,” and parents were told to choose a drink and sandwich for their children, along with a household item (to disguise the purpose of the study).

Some parents were presented with sugary drinks that had images that reflected type 2 diabetes and heart product damage. Others were shown sugary drinks with a barcode label and no picture warning.

Forty-five percent of parents chose sugary drinks for their children when the products did not have picture warnings, but only 28% of parents chose sugary drinks when they did have picture warnings.

“When people do options about which food to buy, they’re juggling dozens of factors like taste, cost, and advertising, and they’re looking at many products at once.” saying the study’s lead author, Lindsey Smith Taillie, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition.

“Showing that warnings can take the noise out of everything going on in a grocery store is powerful evidence that they would help reduce real-world purchases of sugary drinks.”

Children are particularly prone to sugar abuse, largely due to frequent marketing ploys by companies of sweet-sounding, ostensibly “thirst-quenching” beverages.

Beverage packaging can also be misleading.

Fruits and vegetables displayed on the front of many children’s beverages often lead parents to purchase what they think are “healthy” options, when these beverages actually might be. full with sugar, according to a recent study in the journal Appetite

Parents often “make the best of the information they have,” so more nutrition education — through picture warning labels, for example — would make a difference, says Caroline Fausel, paleo food blogger, podcaster and author of Prepare, Cook, Freeze: A Paleo Meal Planning Cookbook.

Healthier options on the rise

The American Beverage Association, an industry trade group, shared current steps major companies are taking to help lower blood sugar in Americans. consumption.

Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and Keurig Dr Pepper joined forces in 2014 to create the “Calorie Balance Initiative,” which aims to reduce beverage consumption. calories in the American diet.

Today, about 60% of all products sold are zero sugar, according to the trade group.

Coca-Cola offers 250 zero- to low-calorie beverages and Keurig Dr Pepper has 158 products with 40 calories or less. Pepsi sells 7.5-ounce mini cans, along with several other sizes, to encourage part control.

“Beverage companies are completely transparent about the calories and sugar in our products, and we’re offering more choices with less sugar than ever before,” William Dermody, vice president of media and public affairs for the American Beverage Association, said in a statement.

“We agree that too much sugar is not good for anyone, and clear information on beverages is of great help to consumers.”

Other large companies are also taking steps to reduce the sugar content of their products.

Kraft Heinz, the company behind popular Capri Sun drinks, has publicly shared its efforts to increase the nutritional value of its products.

The company has a goal Slash 60 million pounds of total sugar in Kraft Heinz products globally by 2025.

“As more people realize the damage that excess sugar can do to the body, my hope is that they will continue to make healthier food choices. alternativesFausel says.

Creation of new patterns

If your child drinks sweetened juices and sodas regularly, transitioning to healthier options can be challenging at first.

“Change may mean tantrums and unhappiness, and at the moment the parents are living to the full pandemic paternity life,” says Jennifer Anderson, a registered dietitian and executive director of Kids Eat in Color, a resource to improve child nutrition and health through innovative education, meal plans and tools.

“Kids can get used to drinking sugary drinks and they don’t want to give it up,” says Anderson.

One way to help make the change is to have only Water and milk as options while your child is awake, a technique that works particularly well for younger children, she says.

“This kind of ‘quiet restraint’ helps children learn to love the healthier option without feeling deprived,” she says.

“Eventually they will learn about juices, soft drinks, chocolate milk, sports drinks, and more, but you can let them learn about those foods at a slower pace when you rarely or don’t serve them at home.”

This technique worked well for Jariana Jiménez, a housewife and Herbalife distributor.

She hasn’t had soda or juice in her house since her children (ages 7 and 3) were babies, and now they see this as “the norm,” says Jimenez, 31.

But modeling the habits you want your children to adopt is also an important factor.

“Children are sponges,” says Jiménez. “What we say and do, they will repeat.”

never too late

But what if your kids are a little older or your family has already gotten used to sugary drinks?

It’s not too late to make the switch yet, says Fausel, who has two sons, ages 8 and 6.

“You can help provide healthy options for your children, no matter how old they are, and that can help them develop a taste for less sugar and healthier foods and beverages,” she says.

“That foundation will continue to serve them for the rest of their lives.”

So how do you make the transition?

try different techniquesI like it weaning your kids from sugary drinks, suggests Anderson.

For example, parents can try adding a little fruit or vegetable juice to their children’s water or by adding less sweetener to lemonades and teas.

“As your child gets used to less sweetness, Water it can become more attractive to them, and your child is already drinking less sugar.”

But most importantly, choose a method that works best for your family.

“Maybe you’re kind of a ‘scamming the Band-Aid’ kind of family, in which case, go for it! Be sure to find some substitutes for fun drinks your family enjoys so no one feels too deprived,” says Anderson.

Something else to keep in mind: Labeling sugary drinks as “bad” can be confusing for some kids.

Instead, it could explain the health factors associated with sugary drinks, says Anderson.

“The bacteria in our mouth they eat sugar, and then they release acid that makes cavities on our teeth” would be an example, she says.

Making these major changes to your children’s drinking habits may sound exhausting, but it may not be as difficult as you think.

“Children adapt, that’s the beauty of it,” says Jiménez.

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