OK, I’m finally going to weigh in on the controversy about Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on any sweetened beverages over 16 ounces. It’s about time that I speak out. Actually, I should have written about this months ago.
When I first learned of this law, I felt that it was about time that someone took initiative and at least brought awareness to the obesity epidemic and what may be contributing to it. We talk and talk about it, but I truly believe that someone needed to do something tangible and concrete, even if it came with controversy, such as making it a law to ban sweetened beverages over 16 oz. And many disagreed with how I felt, that we should have the freedom to choose what we ate, and what we drank.
I agree and I do believe that their other contributing factors that drives obesity, not just sweetened drinks, but because of what I do for a living and what I see every day, I have a much different perspective on this.
In my private practice, I see so many kids who are considered obese which is a BMI equal or over 95th percentile. Overweight is BMI of 85th and less than 95th percentile. The majority of the kids I see are obese and off the chart. They are pre-diabetic, have fatty liver, and high cholesterol/triglyceride levels. This is a serious problem and should not be taken lightly. Many of these kids are drinking these sugary beverages.
Parents are quick to tell me that they don’t allow their kids to drink soda, however, the amount of fruit juice and energy drinks consumed by relatively sedentary kids is astronomical.
As parents feel the minute their kids break a sweat they need to fill them back up with electrolytes they have depleted in a 30 minute outing at the playground. Give me a break.
These drinks have way more sugar and these kids don’t need the extra potassium and sodium after this typeof exercise. While the kid just burned 100 cals, you filled them back with around 250 calories. It’s like giving your kids 16 teaspoons of sugar. Would you consider this for yourself or your kid? For this type of exercise, water (no calories) is the safest and best hydrator.
My sister was telling me this weekend, that the elementary school where her kids attend started a running group after school. She said that there are many obese kids and this was an opportunity for all kids, no matter what size, gets a good 1/2 hour to 1 hour of exercise per day. I thought this was brilliant. It is a free program after school. Then she continued to say that each parent will volunteer to bring Gatorade each time the group met. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
I told my sister that she needs to tell parents to bring water. The parents are basically sabotaging every effort of what this program is supposed have accomplished. I remember as a kid, playing for hours outside, in the hot sun, and never once been given an energy or sports drink. We drank water! This
was about 30 to 35 years ago, when there was no such obesity epidemic.
What kind of message are we giving our kids? That a sugary drink is the best recovery for a 60 minute game of kickball or a 30 minute jog after school? I have also learned that once these kids get used to these sweetened drinks, they don’t want water. They dislike the taste. Whereas kids who are rarely given juice or sports drinks like water.
Yes, I believe that Americans should have freedom of choice and we should be allowed to self-regulate and be responsible with what we put in our bodies. What about our kids? We are responsible for them. They learn from adults. The obesity problem is not going away and I feel that even if the ban on sugary beveragse over 16 oz doesn’t solve the obesity problem (and I believe that it won’t) it will give us something to think about and what is best for our children’s health and the health of our nation’s future.