Primary Care in Rochester and Kasson

What is rule No. 0 in 5-2-1-0 program?

10/13/2022 by Tammy Schmit, R.N.


The 5-2-1-0 program provides parents with an easy guide and tips for helping their kids reach and maintain a healthy weight and overall wellness. Rule No. 0 in this program stands for no sugary drinks for kids and teens. This means no fruit juice, no sugar-sweetened soda, no sports or energy drinks, no lemonade or punch, and no sweetened coffee or tea drinks. 

While that may sound drastic, the reality is that children — and adults — don't need to drink sugar. A 12-ounce can of soda has the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar. Just one can per 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 option, it's not the best beverage choice. Juice products labeled "-ade," "punch" or "drink" often contain less than 5% fruit juice. Limit children to a half-cup of 100% fruit juice a day, and don't give infants under 6 months fruit juice at all. The better choice is fresh fruit, which provides vitamins, minerals, fiber and gives a sense of fullness. 

While milk is a nonsugar alternative, if kids drink 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 2 through 10, the recommendation is two cups of milk per day. For teens, it's three to four cups. A cup is equal to 8 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 No. 1 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. Forgo 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 and sports, and keep them 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 TV, cooking dinner or doing housework. 

Tammy Schmit, R.N., is the nurse manager in Community Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota.