Childhood obesity is becoming an epidemic in America among youth. Children are 40 percent larger than they were just 25 years ago. Part of the reason could be that children are presently less active, when most would choose a video game rather than ride a bike or run freely outside. However, another large part of the reason our children are so much bigger than before is consumption of sugary beverages. Recent studies have shown that sugary beverages are linked to obesity in youth.
These sugary beverages include sodas, fruit juices, and even energy drinks, all a part of daily consumption for many children in the US. These soft drinks contain many harmful ingredients, one of the most dangerous being Aspartame, largely found in the controversial “diet sodas”. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener used as a sugar substitute and found to be nearly 200 times sweeter than sucrose. Aspartame has arguably been found to have the effects of increasing the appetite, fat storage stimulation, carbohydrate cravings and weight gain. In addition to aspartame, one cup of your child’s favorite sugary drink contains nearly 11 teaspoons of sugar, at 128 calories per serving. If you equate that to a child having, on average, one cup of any soft drink containing these ingredients with each meal that is an additional 384 calories or more each day just in beverages. Many children become subject to the effects of the ingredients in these drinks without parents even realizing the true source of their children’s weight gain which, in many cases, is the beverages they consume.
Beverage companies spend on average more than $1 Billion target marketing to youth between the ages of 2-17 years old, making these drinks in high demand by children and even easily accessed in schools. Eighty percent of schools in the US even have contracts with Coke or Pepsi to vend these products. Yet, the beverage industry denies any claims of having any role in childhood obesity.
Children are more susceptible to weight gain in their younger years from 2 to 5 years old, and by the time they are over 5 years old the weight gain becomes harder to control if their bodies have already been trained to store fat, crave carbs and increase the appetite. Removing soda and other soft drinks from our children’s diet can have a remarkable change in their health. Most children at this age wouldn’t even notice the switch from soda to a more healthful choice in beverage. Parents might think about striving to make subtle changes to prevent obesity in the future of our youth since sugary beverages seem to be linked to obesity in our youth.
Written by: Kami Johnson