rethink your drink

Rethink your child’s drink

Photo above by Tirza van Dijk via Unsplash.

Do you know how much sugar is in your child’s drink? The average 20-ounce bottle of soda contains 14 teaspoons of sugar—that’s about the same amount of sugar in six donuts! It is not just soda that is an issue; the average fruit juice has 10 teaspoons of sugar in a 12-ounce serving.

People who often drink sugary drinks are more likely to face health problems like weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cavities and gout. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that people two years of age and older should limit their consumption of added sugars to less than 10 percent of their total calories.

To raise awareness about the health concerns associated with sugar-sweetened beverages, the Allegheny County Health Department will be out in force this spring, summer and fall with its “Rethink Your Drink” campaign.

Drinking sugary beverages, like pop and juice, can also impact dental health. The sugar in these beverages can cause teeth to become weak and create holes on the surface. Over time, these holes grow bigger and can begin to hurt. When this happens, a visit to the dentist is needed, which leads to missing school or work. However, swapping sugary beverages for water can help reduce the need for dental work.

Children watch the adults in their life, so setting a good example is important.

You can show children that drinking water can be fun. Plan an infused water night. Have your children help pick out fruits, vegetables or herbs that can be added to water to enhance the taste. Then add the ingredients to the water and do a taste test. Some examples of flavor combinations could be lemon and cucumber, strawberry and kiwi, and apple and cinnamon sticks. This activity engages the family to show that drinking water can be fun.

Another tip for drinking more water is to make sure you always have it available for your children. Having a reusable water bottle can help make this easier. Make them fun by having your children decorate their bottles with “Rethink Your Drink” stickers.

You can teach your child about rethinking their drink by playing the stoplight game. To play the game, just like a stoplight, you go on green, move slow on yellow and stop on red.

This can be translated into choosing healthy beverage options. Green drinks are beverages that can be consumed all the time and include water and unflavored skim or one-percent milk. Yellow drinks are beverages that should be consumed occasionally and include 100 percent fruit juice, milk and seltzer water. Red drinks are beverages that should rarely be consumed such as soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, sweet tea and fruit drinks.

Next time you’re reaching for a drink for your child, remember to “Rethink Your Drink.” Water is the best option to build healthy habits in our children and teens.

For more information, visit the Health Department’s “Rethink Your Drink” webpage at