Kids Drink 7 Trillion Calories?

A few months ago a friend questioned whether or not Michelle Obama should be spending time talking about reducing soda consumption for children. This friend didn’t realize how devastating this habit is, both for children and the future of our country.

Katherine Harmon recently reported in the Scientific American that children consume upwards of seven trillion calories in sugary drinks annually.

I’d say the First Lady is onto something.

This calls several things to mind. The first being a hilarious blog post by serious author Stephen Guyenet in which he noted the following: “Wrap your brain around this: in 1822, we ate the amount of added sugar in one 12 ounce can of soda every five days, while today we eat that much sugar every seven hours.”  He then surmises that, at this rate, our diet will be entirely sugar by 2606. Brilliant.

This study also brings to mind the Urban Dictionary term, “Diabeting Your Kids.”  Honestly, parents, what do you think you are doing by giving that small child a giant tub of soda?

In 1988, a different friend said to me, “Why are you drinking soda? It isn’t like there is anything good for you in there.”  I stopped then and there.

The Scientific American article goes on to say that seven trillion calories works out to be approximately $24 billion spent on sugary beverages annually. Imagine what we could do with that kind of money.

But more important than money is the ill health these kids will inevitably experience. Remember the Bogalusa heart study? It demonstrated that heart disease starts in children. It does not magically show up when you are an adult. No; the groundwork for that is laid when you are young.

Think about the troubling data we will see in the next decade about a generation plagued with Type II diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay. Imagine what that will do to health care costs for employers and in turn, our economy. Think about what that generation will do to our health care system.

For your kid’s sake and for our country’s sake, let’s put the soda and energy drinks aside and hydrate with good, old fashioned water.

Amy Scott Erickson is a former Division I strength and rowing coach and a current Muscle Activation Techniques Specialist.  Amy is also an instructor in the  Health Fitness Specialist degree program at Globe University.