Stay away from drinks containing sugar

2015-04-30 17:01

WHAT you drink makes more difference than you think.

If someone gave you a cup full of sugar to drink, would you take it? Or would you allow your child to add 14 teaspoons of sugar to their breakfast cereal or beverages?

Well, if your child drinks a 500 ml sugary drink, they will consume between 14 to 19 teaspoons of sugar.

According to the American Heart Association, children aged four to eight should not consume more than three teaspoons of added sugar per day and adults should limit their intake to six teaspoons daily.

If a child drinks only one 500 ml cooldrink containing sugar per day, it adds up to more than half a kilogram of sugar consumed at the end the week.

Even though sugar helps to make our diets more palatable and provides glucose for energy and optimal brain function, the problem lies in consuming too much.

Sugary drinks are high in kilojoules, but contain little to no fibre, vitamins or minerals needed to sustain a child’s health.

Research suggests that drinking kilojoules does not have the same effect on a person’s satiety level compared to consuming the same amount in the form of food.

Sugar hits the bloodstream almost instantly and elevates blood sugar levels.

High intakes of sugar can contribute to insulin resistance, which is related to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Before allowing your child to consume sugary drinks, consider the following:

) Children who consume a lot of sugary drinks have a higher risk for tooth decay.

) Research studies show that excess sugar supresses immune function which makes children more prone to various diseases.

) Fizzy drinks contain high levels of phosphate. Consuming large amounts of phosphate has a detrimental effect on bone health.

) Fluctuating blood sugar levels are linked with irritability and depression. According to a recent British study, a diet high in sugar is linked to a 58% increase in risk for developing depression.

To reduce the amount of sugar in your diet:

) Drink water or milk rather than sugary drinks or sodas. Carrying a water bottle will create a habit of regular water consumption.

) To increase the acceptability, water can be flavoured by adding pieces of fresh fruit (e.g. strawberries, pineapples, cucumber or melons).

) Out of sight out of mind. Children are more likely to drink sugary beverages if it is easily accessible. Rather ensure that low fat milk, water or sugar-free drinks are available.

) Home-made smoothies and drinking yoghurts are a fun way to increase calcium, fibre and vitamin intake. Consuming enough calcium is extremely important during childhood as bones are still being formed.

) Know what you drink by reading labels. The label contains valuable information that can assist you in making healthier choices.

Think twice before buying sugary drinks for your children as it may have a much bigger effect on their long-term health than you may realise. Be smart and make every sip count.

If it’s about nutrition, ask a dietician.


Riëtte van Rooyen and Desiré Brand are fourth-year students of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein

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