No surprise here, but food for thought. A new report reveals a couple of connections, that with a little common sense you could probably figure out anyway, that have been confirmed in a scientific study.
According to the study, in the last 20 years, there has been a substantial rise in the consumption of sugary drinks in 2 to 11 year olds and children who drink these beverages ingest far more calories than children who don't.
Also, children who drink sugar-sweetened beverages eat more unhealthy foods than other children.
Sugar-sweetened beverages include sodas, fruit drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks.
Unhealthy foods are considered ones that contain high levels of solid fats, sodium and calories such as pizza, fast food hamburgers, cakes, cookies, pies, and fried foods.
Researchers analyzed data from nearly 11,000 U.S. children aged 2-18 years old who participated in national surveys from 2003-2010. During this time children's consumption of food and sugar-sweetened beverages increased, and the consumption of non-sweetened beverages decreased.
Breaking down the analysis even more, it was determined that the sugar-sweetened beverages were the primary cause of increased calories for children 2 to 11 years old.
The study is scheduled for publication (with greater detail) in the April issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
"Among all age groups analyzed, the energy density (calories per gram) of food consumed increased with higher sugar-sweetened beverage intake," lead investigator Kevin Mathias, of the department of nutrition at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said in a journal news release.
Currently in New York City, there is a hotly contested debate over the legality of banning certain sized sugar-sweetened beverages. Some people feel it's a good idea to help combat the obesity epidemic and others believe that banning these drinks denies a person the right to make their own choice.
I think both arguments have merit, but that education is the best approach. The more people understand the health risks associated with obesity and are reminded of the consequences of their choices, the better choices they are more willing to make. It's a lot like smoking or drug abuse or anything else that over a period of time will ruin your health. You seldom see healthy foods advertised on television, you never see effective and poignant PSAs that inform parents of the damage that obesity can do both physically and psychologically to their children.
Calories, fat and sodium listed on menu items? Absolutely.
Prohibition has never worked well in this country, but education and reminders have. Forget the Just Say No approach and be honest and to the point. Talking down to someone, insulting or trying to embarrass them seldom gets the results needed. Motivation and facts often does. Evolution is slow, but there is already a slight decrease in the obesity rate among children and adults and that's a good start.
Source: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=674293