Employee & Community Health

5-2-1-0: '0' stands for no sugary drinks

11/28/2016 by Michaeleen Burroughs, RDN, LD

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The 5-2-1-0 program provides parents with a simple guide and tips for helping their kids reach and maintain a healthy weight and overall wellness. "0" stands for no sugary drinks. 

That's right NO sugary drinks for the kids and teens. No fruit juice, no sugar-sweetened soda, no sports or energy drinks, no lemonade or punch, no sweetened coffee or tea drinks. 

While that may sound drastic, the reality is that children - and adults - don't need to be drinking sugar. A 12-ounce can of soda has the equivalent of 10 teaspoons. Just one can a day could lead to a weight gain of 15 pounds in a year. Each additional can of soda increases a child's risk of obesity by 60%. 

Although fruit juice sounds like a good-for-you option, it's not the best beverage choice. Juice products labeled "-ade", "punch" or "drink" often contain less than 5% fruit juice. Children should be limited to a half-cup of 100% fruit juice a day, and infants under six months shouldn't be given fruit juice at all. The better choice is fresh fruit, which provides vitamins, minerals, fiber and gives you a sense of fullness. 

And while milk is a non-sugary alternative, if kids are drinking milk during a break at school and with their lunch, they're getting most of the milk they need for the day. For kids ages two through 10, two cups of milk a day are recommended; for teens, it's three to four cups. A cup is equal to eight ounces or one of the half-pint cartons kids get at school. 

But there's an alternative to sugary drinks that everybody's body will love - water. Water is essential for good health, it's the number-one thirst quencher, low-cost (or free) and contains zero calories! Students who eat healthy, sleep well at night and drink plenty of water have more energy for their studies, sports and other activities. 

Here are a few tips and techniques for helping the whole family make the switch from sugary drinks to water: 

  • Start slowly. Choose a 12-ounce can of soda over a 22-ounce (or larger) bottle. Add water to juice. Ask for unsweetened, rather than sweetened, iced tea. Forego the sugar in your coffee. 
  • Make water available. Fill a pitcher and put it in the fridge. Make it special by adding slices of lemon, oranges, limes, cucumbers, watermelon or pineapple. Have bottled water on hand to grab and go. 
  • Start a family water bottle collection. Go shopping and let everyone pick one that's cool, fun or functional. Carry them to work, school, sports and keep around the house. 
  • Reward yourselves. If you choose water over sugary drinks at a restaurant, drive-thru, sporting event or other activity, put that money in a jar for a fun family activity or add it to the kids' allowances. 
  • Be a role model. The kids are watching. So sip water with meals, grab a bottle for the car, keep your water bottle handy while you're watching television, cooking dinner or doing housework. 

Michaeleen Burroughs, RDN, LD, has worked at Employee and Community Health (ECH) in Family Medicine for 20 years. She currently helps patients at Mayo Family Clinics Northwest, Southeast and Kasson and Community Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (CPAM). Her areas of interest are diabetes and child and adult weight management.