Pathways to Wellness

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Liquid Candy

A sugar-sweetened drink is any drink which has added sugar. Examples are soda pop, fruit drinks or cocktails, sweetened teas and coffees, sports drinks, and energy drinks. These drinks are all around us – they are easy to buy at stores and in vending machines, and in some communities, are cheaper than the healthier option of milk.

We are wired to be attracted to sweet tastes – when we relied on hunting and gathering, a sweet taste was often a sign that a fruit or berry was safe and ready  to eat. Now we roam the aisles of supermarkets which are filled with sweet tasting foods and drinks – it’s not surprising that we are consuming more and more sugar.

There’s nothing wrong with an occasional sweet drink – the problem is that we are drinking more sugar sweetened drinks, and less water and milk. Sugar-sweetened drinks are added calories. They do not replace the calories we need to meet our basic needs, and they won’t make us feel full. The end result is that the calories we get from sugar-sweetened drinks are over and above what we need each day.

A 20-oz bottle of pop (591ml) contains about 16 teaspoons of sugar – that’s 250 calories. In order to burn off these added calories, an average adult who weighs 135 lbs would need to walk briskly for 45 minutes. That equates to 3 miles in 45 minutes!

Sugar sweetened drinks are a major contributor to overweight and obesity, and the rising rates of diabetes. They have also been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney stones, osteoporosis and cavities.  

Enough about the problems – what can you do about it?

  • Start small, by reducing the number of times you drink sugar sweetened drinks each day.
  • Drink more water – add a slice of lemon if you’d like a bit of flavour.
  • Herbal teas made with a tea bag are great choices – they are refreshing, inexpensive, low in calories, and free of both sugar and caffeine.
  • Milk is a good choice for building strong bones – even chocolate milk (which contains added sugar) is a better choice than pop because it has vitamins and nutrients that we need.

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