Teens in Britain Eat a Tubful of Sugar Every Year

Posted 01/10/2017 | By HealthCorps

It’s an astonishing visual – a bathtub full of sugar.  According to a recent UK survey, that’s how much sugar teens in the UK consume from sugary drinks, every year.  Our American teens can’t be too far behind.

A 2015 survey in the UK found similar results among all ages of kids, with sugar consumption far in excess of recommended daily values.  The new survey found that preschool children drank nearly 70 cans of soda yearly.  Kids between the ages of four and ten averaged 110 cans yearly, and teenagers drank nearly 234 cans of soda in the past year.  These numbers are astounding and worrisome, but they are actually an improvement over numbers compiled in 2014.  Still, a planned UK tax on sugary drinks is being issued to further stem the consumption of sugary drinks among kids and teens.

Many in the UK feel it (the soda tax) is still too little an effort to stem a habit that has been implicated as a risk factor for obesity and Type 2 diabetes, as well as heart disease and fatty liver disease.  Many in the UK hope that separate legislation to prevent food advertising on TV before 9P.M. will also be enacted.  The UK beverage industry is of course against any of these measures, and points to the drop in sugary drink consumption and the increased consumption of lower calorie drinks and smaller beverage size.  They also point to being the only sector to voluntarily reduce calories by 20 percent in 2020 and to having modified some advertising efforts to the below age sixteen set.

Other countries have had mixed results with a soda tax.  A fat tax in Denmark was scrapped because of the economic impact, along with plans for a soda tax.  In Mexico, a soda tax did reduce calorie count by 6 calories per day per person on a diet of over 3000 calories daily.  In France, a soda tax did result in an initial drop in soft drink sales (in 2012), which have increased since then.

Here in the U.S. it’s clear that refined sugar consumption is also way too high among kids (and adults).  A 2012 report from the CDC indicated that kids were getting way too much sugar from cereal, drinks and refined grains.  For example, boys age twelve to nineteen consumed 442 calories from added sugar, which is equivalent to three regular sodas daily.  In 2016, the American Heart Association released its first scientific statement regarding kids’ consumption of added sugar and its impact on heart health.  The new recommendations suggested that kids and teens should consume no more than six teaspoons of sugar daily (24 grams or 100 calories) and no more than eight ounces of sugary drinks per week.  Children under two should avoid “added sugars” in drinks and food entirely.

If your family has not already adopted these recommendations, then it’s time to do so.  If you need help, reach out to your pediatrician, primary care physician or seek help from a dietician or nutritionist.

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