Stories about: soda

Home sweet home? How reducing sugary drinks at home can help teens avoid weight gain

sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain
Eliminating drinks like soda, sports drinks and sugary juices can help prevent extra weight gain.

Given the whirlwind of media around New York’s recent ban on super-sized sugary drinks it’s no surprise to hear that sugar-sweetened beverages add extra calories to our diets—and, ultimately, extra pounds to our bodies. What’s more surprising is just how directly sugar-sweetened beverages impact weight gain, and how keeping zero-calorie drinks in the house can prevent that unnecessary weight from affecting our kids.

Recently, researchers Cara Ebbeling, PhD, (associate director) and David Ludwig, MD, PhD, (director) of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center Boston Children’s Hospital examined the relationship between sugar-sweetened beverages, weight gain and teen’s home environments. They looked at 224 teens who were either overweight or obese, and who drank sugar-sweetened beverages on a daily basis.

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Fighting childhood obesity: SNAP v. soda

In the mid 20th century, hunger was a major concern for America’s poor. To better support malnourished families living below the poverty line, the federal government created the Food Stamp Act in 1964 to help provide healthy food to people in need.

America’s nutritional landscape has changed a lot over the past 50 years. Malnourishment is still a big problem in America, but in a much different way than it was back then.

Because of their lower prices and mass availability, unhealthy foods and drinks have become a staple in the diets of millions of Americans. Obesity rates in this country have grown to epidemic levels, with impoverished communities being hit especially hard. In low-income homes across the country, overweight and obese children now outnumber underweight kids by a ratio of seven to one.

To combat this epidemic, many states are trying to change what type of items people can buy via the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP-formerly know as food stamps). Because sugar-sweetened beverages have no nutritional value and have been closely linked with obesity, nine states, including Illinois, Nebraska, Texas and most recently New York, have tried to have these drinks barred from being bought with SNAP money.  In each case the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has said no.

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Greenwashing your kids: Advertisers target green parents

Cigarette manufacturer Reynolds American Inc. recently released a new ad campaign for its American Spirit line, touting the eco-friendliness of the brand. The ads boast that the company uses recycled paper, electric hand dryers and ceramic mugs instead of paper towels and disposables cups. It even goes as far as to point out that their sales team drives hybrids. Thankfully it stops short of saying that America Spirits are a healthier cigarette than non-green alternatives, but the message is pretty clear: if you smoke and care about the environment, American Spirit is the brand for you.

Hopefully most people will recognize these ads for what they are, a green tinted smoke screen devised to push an otherwise unhealthy product. But regardless of the campaign’s success, the fact that these ads exist at all says a lot about how the eco movement influences people’s buying habits. If something as unhealthy as tobacco is rebranding itself as green, then it’s safe to assume that phony green marketing has infiltrated other markets as well.

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Boston launches Soda-Free Summer Challenge

Soda from a marketing perspective: “It’s bubbly, sweet and drinking it makes your life like a non-stop party!” The reality of excessive soda consumption: sugar-heavy sodas have been linked to America’s growing rates of obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, heart disease and depression.

In an effort to put a cap on young Bostonians’ soda drinking, the city is initiating the Soda-Free Summer Challenge, where participants pledge to abstain from drinking soda all summer.

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