Go for the H2O!

By Alisha Havens Dec 8, 2013

How much caffeine and sugar is your child consuming on a daily basis? Teens are now more than ever loading up on Starbucks or energy drinks. Surveys suggest that as many as half of young people consume these unregulated beverages, often in search of a hefty dose of caffeine to help them wake up, stay awake or get a "buzz," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The average caffeine intake of children and young adults has increased by 70 percent since the 1980s, said the Swiss National Science Foundation. These caffeinated drinks can cause rapid heartbeat, obesity, high blood pressure and other medical problems.

At a recent visit to Safeway over the lunch hour, I saw students grabbing for an energy drink, in the line at Starbucks, or loading up on soda pop. The amount of sugar and caffeine in these drinks will surely keep them awake in the afternoon, provide a few cavities and lead to some extra pounds. Just think of the amount of sugar in each of these beverages. Even Vitamin Water is loaded with sugar. Each sugar cube represented in the diagram below equals 4 grams of sugar.

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●Starbucks hot chocolate= 43g(about 10 cubes)   ●No-Carb Monster Drink= 8g (about 2 cubes)
●Mountain Dew= 77g (about 19 cubes)                      ●Red Bull= 27g (about 7 cubes)
●Vitamin Water= 33g (about 8 cubes)
●Coke= 39g (about 10 cubes)

There are many healthy alternatives to high-sugar caffeinated drinks. Obviously the first one is H2O–good old fashioned water. Or if your child wants more flavor provide Propel which has 0 grams of sugar. If they choose to drink soda, Diet 7up and Diet Coke are a great alternative. For younger kids you can dilute the amount of sugar in a juice drink by adding more water or provide chocolate milk with sugar free chocolate syrup.

As parents, we need to start reducing the amount of sugar and caffeinated drinks our kids are consuming and start pushing more water, less sugar and caffeine to lead to healthier outcomes now and later on in life.

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