By MARY ANN LIENHART CROSS
County Extension Director, Extension Educator – Health & Human Sciences, Purdue Extension Elkhart County
What is your favorite beverage? What beverages do you drink at home, at work, and when eating away from home? I was pleased to hear recently that pop consumption is down a bit and water drinking is up.
Pop is most definitely in most children’s and adult’s vocabulary. Pop is everywhere and some of the research shows that the average person in the United States will consume 54 gallons of soda pop in a year.
The marketing professionals and manufactures have made it easy to drink lots of pop by providing 20 and 24-ounce bottles with twist tops and then all the fountain drinks that are big sizes.
The concern is that pop contains calories but no nutrients and thus replaces other foods that provide more nutritional value. For optimum health, it is best to choose beverages which will provide vitamins and minerals necessary for good health.
As the beverage choice for all of us, but especially children, milk has to compete against soda pop and other beverages such as sport drinks, tea, fruit juices, and other beverages.
If children drink a lot of pop instead of milk, they may not get the calcium they need. Calcium is important for building strong bones and maintaining bones. Children and adults are all at risk of osteoporosis or ‘weak bones’ in later years.
Just so you know soda pop drinkers take in about 200 extra calories per day compared to those who don’t drink soda pop. You know that obesity is on the rise in our country and some studies link this to increased amounts of pop that we are all drinking.
Drinking a lot of pop is linked to risks for later bone health and being overweight. Another huge problem with soda pop drinking is the acid wears down the enamel on teeth and causes decay.
There is a lot of hidden sugar in all of the foods that we eat but pop is the number one source of sugar in all of our eating.
To figure out how much sugar is in a beverage, you need to do a little math. For example, the nutrition facts panel for a 12-ounce can of soda pop may list 48 grams of total carbohydrates. So take 48 and divide by 4 to get the number of teaspoons of sugar, which is 12.
So the fact is that if you drink a 12-ounce can of soda pop you will consume 12 teaspoons of sugar. If you are looking at a larger bottle, multiply the number of teaspoons of sugar for one serving by the number of servings in the container.
When you are reading the label to find sugar listed look for these words, high fructose, corn syrup, sucrose, and sugar. We all need to be mindful of our beverage choices when it comes to sugar consumption.
We need to be drinking water, milk and some fruit juices and fruit beverages. Keep in mind that commercial lemonade and other fruit drinks also have a lot of sugar in them.
The more often a child is exposed to a food, the more likely he or she is to consume that food. If you don’t want your children to drink soda, don’t keep it in the house.