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.”