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Monthly Health Topics

Skip The Sugary Drinks This Summer to Stay Hydrated

By George Hulse, Vice President of External Affairs, Healthfirst
According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Americans today consume close to 300 more calories daily than 30 years ago, and nearly half of these extra calories are drunk in the form of sugary drinks. Those 300 calories take almost 70 city blocks of walking to burn. So here is my question: Is it really worth it?
In summertime, it’s especially tempting for kids to turn to soda and other sugary drinks for relief from the heat. But these beverages are not only caloric and fattening, they can also rot kids’ teeth and lead to serious health problems like diabetes.
It’s better for kids to quench their thirst with healthy, naturally refreshing drinks rather than to weigh themselves down with artificially flavored and colored beverages loaded with sugar.
Here are a few ways you can help your child steer clear of sugary drinks:
• Substitute natural fruit juices (especially those mixed with vegetable juice) and whole fruit for soda and powdered beverages high in sugar.
• Stock the fridge with bottled water so kids, having easy access, can grab one on the go.
• If you want to save money on store-bought purified water, use a water filter.
• Treat your family to chilled pitchers of fresh lemonade or decaffeinated ice tea (but go easy on the sugar).
• Limit or eliminate pre-sweetened coffee and tea drinks, and shakes.
Another important point to consider: if your child drinks lots of milk, you should try switching to fat-free or to one-percent milk. They’re both still rich in calcium and Vitamin D but don’t contain all the fat of regular milk. Low-fat milk has fewer calories, too, so it’s a healthy drink option that can help keep kids slim and fit.
So remember, encourage kids to grab a healthy beverage instead of reaching for that soft drink or sugary juice. They’ll feel better, and you will too, knowing that they’re staying hydrated the healthy way.
George Hulse is Vice President of External Affairs at Healthfirst. For more tips on leading a healthier lifestyle, visit the Healthfirst website at www.healthfirst.org.

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