In “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” an overweight child named Augustus Gloop goes overboard for sweets and disappears in a vat of chocolate; in the story of Hansel and Gretel, the witch’s gingerbread house is too much for the kids to resist. Many cautionary tales warn children about the dangers of sweets, and yet research shows that boys (12-19) gulp 273 calories a day from sugary drinks, girls 171. Younger kids suck down 141 calories (boys) and 112 (girls). Sugary beverages are continually putting your kids at risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease and depression.
That info comes on top of news that drinking sugary beverages is indicative of an overall poor diet; the more sugary drinks kids have, the lower their level of good-for-you HDL cholesterol and the higher their level of potentially heart-harming triglycerides. The fact is that 1 in 3 children eats in a fast-food restaurant EVERY DAY! (That rate’s held steady for about 20 years.)
So, Mom and Dad, here are simple steps you can take to change your child’s life (and if you’re a sugary drink guzzler, they can change yours, too):
1. No sodas (sweet or diet) in the house.
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2. Send your kids to school with their own water bottles flavored with slices of fresh fruit (try strawberries, lemon, oranges and limes).
3. When your kids are thirsty, offer water and/or fresh fruit. Watermelon, a whole orange and mango are as thirst-quenching as they are delicious, and their fiber-rich goodness keeps their natural sugar from affecting body chemistry like sugar-added beverages do.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.