Good news! A recent study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests that health warning labels can steer teens away from sugary drinks. The average teen consumes at least one sugar-sweetened beverage per day which is twice the daily recommended amount of sugar. A diet high in added sugars leads to obesity and insulin resistance, eventually paving the way to diabetes, high blood-pressure, heart disease, inflammation, and even some kinds of cancer.
Popular beverages among teens include energy drinks, soda pop, coffee drinks, and juice, all high in sugar and most containing caffeine too. Take a look at a few examples of drinks and their sugar content:
Red Bull (can)- 7 tsp
Rock Star (can)- 10 tsp
Soda pop (can)- 10 tsp
Jamba Juice smoothie (12 oz) - 15 tsp
Starbucks mocha frappuccino (tall) - 11 tsp
Below are some tips to help reduce added sugars:
Start with a good breakfast
A protein rich breakfast rather than a sugary one can set the tone for reduced cravings throughout the day. Instead of a bowl of cereal, how about offering eggs with vegetables cooked in olive oil and a slice of whole grain toast? Regular meals and snacks throughout the day will help keep blood sugars stable and sweet cravings at bay.
Educate your child or teen about added sugars
Fitness is important to most teens so sell them on how great they'll feel on a healthier diet. Suggest switching to plain water or sparkling water with a splash of juice. For older kids, caffeine-free iced teas with a touch of lemonade might be appealing.
Read nutrition labels together
If you see sucrose, glucose, dextrose or anything else that ends with "ose", these are just other names for sugar. Sugar alcohols end with "ol" like sorbitol or xylitol. Skip the artificial sweeteners. Besides not being healthy for growing bodies, studies show consumption of artificial sweeteners cause the body to respond much the same way as the consumption of sugar. Artificial sweeteners come with names like sucralose, saccharin, aspartame, and Acesulfame potassium. If the label reads "sugar-free," "no sugar added" or "diet," it's likely sweetened artificially.
Stick with it
Taste buds take 10 days to two weeks to turn over so give a low-sugar diet a chance. Given time, foods and drinks that were once desirable will likely taste too sweet... which is a good thing!