Child Health, Family Health, Your Health Tamar Raucher | 2 years ago

How Much Sugar Is Hiding in Kids' Drinks?

Although our bodies need sugar for energy, we don’t need 180 pounds of the sweet stuff. That’s the average amount of sugar eaten by Americans in a year. And that’s a whole lot of sweetness.

The major sources of added sugars in American diets are regular soft drinks and fruit drinks along with candy, cakes, cookies and pies. While most parents routinely limit the amount of candy consumed by little ones, they may not be as vigilant when it comes to drinks. As part of the 5-2-1-0 movement, which stands for 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 hours or less of recreational screen time, 1 hour or more of physical activity and 0 sugary drinks, it’s best to eliminate sugary drinks in favor of more water and low-fat milk. (If your child is 2 or younger, whole milk is recommended.) If sugary drinks are a part of your child’s diet, or your own, start to cut back slowly on sugar-filled drinks, juices and sports drinks, and read the labels on beverages. A common misconception is that 100 percent fruit juice is healthy, because it has vitamins that kids need and is better than other juices. However, the process of creating these juices removes any health benefits. First, fruits are juiced, removing pulp and peels which contain fiber. Second, the juice is boiled at 210 degrees for pasteurization (so it can last on the shelf until 2018). This heating process kills any vitamins that may be present in juice. Any nutrient mentioned on the packaging is added by the processing plant. By the time it hits the grocery shelf, sugar is the only thing left over. For children, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 130 to 170 calories (3 to 4 teaspoons) per day of added sugar. A good rule of thumb to remember is that roughly 4 grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon of sugar. Even drinks that sound healthy may have too much sugar. For instance, some canned teas contain more than 50 grams of sugar and most smoothies are a minefield of sugar and calories. Common Drink Choices
Drink Size Total Calories Sugar Grams Teaspoons Sugar
Cola 20 oz 250 cal 65 g 15
100% Apple Juice 15 oz 220 cal 48 g 11
Sports Drinks 20 oz 130 cal 34 g 8
Vitamin Water 20 oz 125 cal 32.5 g 8
Energy Drinks 16 oz 200 cal 54 g 13
Water 20 oz 0 cal
  Healthy habits are important for the whole family. For a smart game plan to get you there, follow 5-2-1-0. Every day, eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, limit screen time from TVs, video games, smartphones and other devices to 2 hours or less, get at least 1 hour of physical activity, and aim for 0 sugary drinks, drinking water or low-fat milk instead. To learn more about 5-2-1-0, access fun health tips and activities, and pledge to be healthy together with your family, visit Take the pledge and join the 5-2-1-0 League of healthy families in our community!