Medicine

Policies Recommended to Reduce Sugary Drink Intake in Youth

Policies Recommended to Reduce Sugary Drink Intake in Youth

But data show that children and teens now consume 17 percent of their calories from added sugars—nearly half of which comes from drinks alone.

Healthy drinks such as water and milk should be the default beverages on children's menus and in vending machines, and federal nutrition assistance programs should ensure access to healthy food and beverages and discourage consumption of sugary drinks.

In 2013, Sugary drink manufacturers spent $866 million to market their products to adults and kids.

Muth, M.D., M.P.H., from the Children's Primary Care Medical Group in Carlsbad, California, and colleagues present policy strategies to help reduce sugary drink consumption in children and adolescents. Almost half of those are coming from drinks alone, with children consuming an average of 30 gallons of sugary drinks annually.

"Excess consumption of added sugars, especially from sugary drinks, contributes to the high prevalence of childhood and adolescent obesity, especially among children and adolescents who are socioeconomically vulnerable", the authors said. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that children and teens consume fewer than 10 percent of calories from added sugars. A study published in March 2019 in the journal Circulation found that people who drink two or more sugar-sweetened beverages a day have a 31 percent higher risk of early death from cardiovascular disease.

American children consume what amounts to a bathtub full of sugary beverages a year - more than 30 gallons of sports drinks, soda and fruit juice.

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AAP and AHA say excise taxes on sugary drinks have successfully reduced consumption rates in cities such as Berkeley, California and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Researchers reviewed data from two long-term, large-scale studies - one involving almost 38,000 men and another that followed more than 80,000 women - and found that those who consumed one to two sugary drinks per day increased their overall risk of death by 14 percent. The revenue from those taxes could go to fund initiatives that advocate healthier eating habits for children.

Why do physician groups want to limit access to sugary sweetened drinks?

"We know that an increase in price leads to a decrease in consumption", she said. "We know what works to protect kids' health and it's time we put effective policies in place that bring down rates of sugary drink consumption just like we've done with tobacco", said Rachel Johnson, PhD, RD, professor emeritus of nutrition at University of Vermont and former chair of AHA's nutrition committee.

In other areas of public health, such as alcohol abuse and cigarette smoking, the implementation of higher taxes has also led to reductions in their use. The AHA and AAP want parents to talk to their kids about healthy drink options and encourage them to drink only milk and water without drinks high in sugar as part of their diets. If we can do this together, well improve the long-term health of our nations children.”.

Other actions to address the issue could include limits on marketing to children and financial incentives for buying healthier beverages, experts said in the joint statement.


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