WOODLAND — Most parents would never feed their children 10 teaspoons of sugar, but that is what drinking one 12-ounce soda delivers. In fact, the average 4- to 5-year-old child consumes 17 teaspoons of added sugar a day, which amounts to 65 pounds of added sugar a year. The majority of a child’s added sugar intake comes from fruit drinks, high-fat desserts, soft drinks and candy.
That’s why First 5 Yolo is asking parents, caregivers and children to “Rethink Your Drink.”
“It’s back-to-school time and many parents are packing lunches for their nursery school, preschool and elementary school children — often with sugary juices,” said Julie Gallelo, executive director of First 5 Yolo. “Parents think they are giving their child something healthy, when, in fact, these juices contain the equivalent of from 3 to 6 teaspoons of sugar each.”
Adding so much sugar into the diets of children causes problems, from tooth decay to obesity.
First 5 Yolo recommends that parents substitute water for drinks filled with sugar and limit juice to 4 to 6 ounces a day — less than one juice box. Even 100 percent juice contains sugar and should be limited.
Lunch boxes should include either water or low-fat or non-fat milk. Milk is needed to help bones and teeth grow strong. Even though most kids love chocolate milk, parents should limit amounts of chocolate milk since a typical 8-ounce glass of chocolate milk contains 6.25 teaspoons of sugar.
“There are lots of ways to jazz up water for kids,” Gallelo said. “A popular drink that kids love, especially on warm days, is water flavored with fresh fruit slices.”
First 5 Yolo has fruit-flavored water recipes on its website at www.first5yolo.org. Ideas range from sweet strawberry pineapple water to cucumber-melon water.