By: Alonso Chavarriaga
Battling Obesity by Limiting Soda Consumption
Dr. Corin Cross, an obesity champion for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), says a great way to start is by telling your children that soda is an adult drink. This will get tougher to enforce as they get older and realize that other families have different rules, but could help out when kids are younger. If your children are under the age of 10, for example, tell them flat out that you don’t drink soda, and don’t buy it. If you go out to eat with them and they want a special drink, something like a Shirley Temple or similar drink will have just a bit of soda. If you choose to allow it at birthday parties, it can get out of hand quickly; especially if birthday parties are a frequent occurrence. It’s easier to just have a hardline that cannot be crossed.
There are other drink options that should be readily available to your children in place of soda. Dr. Cross recommends testing out seltzer water (plain or flavored), almond milk, regular milk, and on special occasions, natural juice. It can be very difficult to teach them not to drink soda or even drinks like Gatorade, especially with the sheer number of ads bombarding them from every direction.
Slowly Phasing Out Soda
If your kids are already drinking soda, weaning them off of it should be a priority. Sugary beverages are quickly converted into fat. You can help combat the rising levels of childhood obesity by teaching your children to ration their drinks. Instead of buying a 2-liter bottle of soda every few days, you can buy a smaller bottle at the beginning of the week for each child. Assign them each a specific bottle, and make it clear that they cannot have any more once they finish it. They can either drink it all at once, or spread it out over the week, but this will teach them not to drink it in large quantities.
Over time, you can begin buying smaller bottles, and buying soda every two weeks instead of every week. Gradually you will reduce their soda consumption to the point that not drinking it again is a reasonable goal.
Sharp, clever children may try to combat the soda restrictions by mentioning how “diet soda is not as bad.” The reality is that both regular and diet sodas are bad for you. While regular soda contains too much sugar, diet soda contains many different chemicals to help make up for the missing sugar. Your brain is smarter than that however, and the lack of sugar when it was expected makes you crave sugar even more. If your child has to drink soda, stick to regular soda. If your child is overweight, all soda needs to be cut out regardless of what type it is.
Schools have been trying to raise awareness around drinking soda for years now. An older campaign that made the social media rounds highlighted a tooth dropped into a cup of soda… by the next day it had dissolved completely.
More recent campaigns have shown kids how much sugar is in soda by pouring pure sugar into an empty cup. These savvy ads serve as great eye openers, and when combined with your efforts at home, could help protect your child’s health and set them on a path to healthier eating.