Advice From Our Experts

Smart Bites: Kick the Can

Say No to Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

If you could do one thing that would reduce your child’s risk of developing cavities, diabetes, heart disease and obesity, would you do it? Well, that one thing is easy: stop buying sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, lemonade, sweet tea or fruit punch.


Why are sugary beverages so bad for you?

  • Children who drink sugary beverages have 55 percent increased odds of becoming obese
    • 26 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes
    • Up to 35 percent increased risk of developing heart disease
  • Children who drink soda and/or punch have double the risk of developing dental cavities
  • Children who drink sugary beverages often fill up on these high-calorie drinks instead of consuming nutrient-rich foods and beverages, so their diets tend to be low in calcium, vitamins A and  C.

Every day over half of children and three-fourths of teenagers in the United States drink soda. Sugar-sweetened beverages are the No. 1 source of added sugars in a child’s diet, providing more than double the amount of sugar provided by desserts, candies and cookies. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommendations for added sugar per day are no more than:

  • 3 to 4 teaspoons per day for preschooler to 8 years of age
  • 5 teaspoons per day for children age 8 to teens
  • 6 teaspoons per day for teenage girls and women
  • 9 teaspoons per day for teenage boys and men

Types of drinks that exceed to recommended amount of sugar:

  • Sweetened iced teas: 18 teaspoons in a large can 
    Soda: 16 teaspoons in a 20 oz. bottle
  • Flavored iced coffee: 12 teaspoons in regular-sized drink
  • Lemonade: 7 teaspoons in a glass, 17 teaspoons in a 20-ounce bottle
  • Fruit punch pouch: 5 teaspoons in a pouch

What to offer instead?

  • Nonfat or 1 percent milk
  • Sparkling water, plain or flavored with fun fruit slices
  • Mix ¾ water or sparkling water to ¼ 100% juice . For one 8 ounce cup that would be 6 ounces of water or sparkling water and 2 ounces of juice.
  • Healthy drinks with frozen cherries, grapes or mango instead of ice
  • Water infused with cucumber, mint or any refreshing fruit or vegetable
  • Unsweetened herbal tea

To keep your family healthy, “kick the can.”