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Families face hard decisions about soft drinks

March 23, 2009

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Rachel and Phillip Cullison allow their boys Elijah (from left), Isaiah and Micah to drink pop.

Rachel and Phillip Cullison allow their boys Elijah (from left), Isaiah and Micah to drink pop.

Kids drinking the occasional soda may not be on a parent’s radar so much as their school performance or social adjustments. But according to at least one nutritionist, it should be an important family issue.

Nutritionist Paul Snyder of Tonganoxie says people are consuming more sugar than ever before. An increased soft drink intake has led to advanced tooth decay and poor dental health that dentists are calling “Mountain Dew mouth.”

“At the turn of the (20th) century, the average American consumed 6 pounds of sugar per year,” Snyder says. “Today, the average American consumes 155 pounds of sugar per year.”

Snyder says people don’t realize how much sugar is in their food because they aren’t the ones putting it there.

“Sugar (being used) now is the cheapest, worst sugar for the body to work with, and that’s high-fructose corn syrup,” Snyder says.

According to “Liquid Candy,” a report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, soft drinks not only add sugar and empty calories to the diet, they also push out healthier options such as milk. Snyder says it is a problem, especially in schools with pop machines.

“The dentists and the parents are imploring them to please get that out of the schools,” he says.

According to nutritionists, parents need to think about the amount of sugar in soda when deciding how to raise their children.

“What they have to consider is the fundamental thing that everything a parent has in their heart: They want their kids to be the best that they can be,” he says. “This generation right now, it’s already been determined, is not going to live as long as their parents. It’s because of what the kids are eating.”

Snyder stresses the importance of moderation in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

“We’re supposed to have a little bit of everything and not a lot of anything,” he says. “It affects the quality and, the quantity of our lives.”

Rachel Cullison of Lawrence, a mother of three, says she allows her children to drink soft drinks because she does so herself. She hasn’t noticed increased hyperactivity or increased tooth decay.

“I think that moderation is how you do it,” Cullison says.

Cullison says allowing her children to occasionally consume soft drinks prevents them from overindulging when she isn’t around.

“I personally think that if you don’t give your kids stuff like pop, or you hoard it, then when they do have access to it, they’re going to go overboard,” Cullison says. “It’s just like sweets. If you can never let them have sweets or don’t keep them in the house, then when they can have them, they’re going to gorge.”

“If we want these kids to be better off than we are, we have a pretty tough assignment ahead of us.”

Comments

ljwreader33 5 years, 9 months ago

I would have to agree with Mr. Snyder. We don't keep soda around the house. We're just not big soda drinkers. Our son is 14 years old and is still cavity free. One of his best friends, on the other hand, comes from a soda drinking home, and he had several crowns installed (even on baby teeth) as early as six years old. Think of the dental bills, wow! In addition to dental health, soda is a huge contributor to our obesity and overweight issues. I've heard a statistic before that if you're a soda drinker you put on an additional 10 pounds per year, just from soda.
We drink water and it seems to quench the thirst just fine.

Chris Ogle 5 years, 9 months ago

I don't drink anything more than Pop..... of course Pop, he drinks damn near anything.

Corn_Refiner 5 years, 9 months ago

High fructose corn syrup may have a complicated-sounding name, but it's actually a simple sweetener, made from corn, that is nutritionally the same as sugar.

The American Medical Association in June 2008 helped put to rest misunderstandings about this sweetener and obesity, stating that “high fructose syrup does not appear to contribute to obesity more than other caloric sweeteners.”

Even former critics of high fructose corn syrup dispel long-held myths and distance themselves from earlier speculation about the sweetener’s link to obesity as the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition releases its 2008 Vol. 88 supplement's comprehensive scientific review.

Many confuse pure “fructose” with "high fructose corn syrup," a sweetener that never contains fructose alone, but always in combination with a roughly equivalent amount of a second sugar (glucose). Recent studies that have examined pure fructose - often at abnormally high levels - have been inappropriately applied to high fructose corn syrup and have caused significant consumer confusion.

High fructose corn syrup is not sweeter than sugar; and high fructose corn syrup, sugar and honey all contain the same number of calories (four calories per gram).

Like table sugar and honey, high fructose corn syrup contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients or color additives.

Consumers can see the latest research and learn more about high fructose corn syrup at www.SweetSurprise.com.

Audrae Erickson President Corn Refiners Association

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