JULY 20, 2020 — You know how kids make a large amount of sugar disappear, in just a few seconds?
They drink it.
Play Every Day has been focusing its recent messages on keeping families healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that will continue. The campaign, however, is discussing other ways to help children grow up healthy. One way is to cut back on serving sugary drinks that can lead to cavities, unhealthy weight gain, type 2 diabetes and other health concerns.
“Choosing healthy drinks and being active can help prevent the diseases that increase the chances of severe illness from COVID-19,” said Karol Fink, registered dietitian and manager of Alaska’s Physical Activity and Nutrition Program that runs Play Every Day. “It’s never too late to start serving kids healthier options, like water or milk.”
No magic necessary: Kids can make sugar disappear by drinking it
Play Every Day’s newest message uses kids’ love of magic tricks to show how much sugar is hiding in drinks. The 30-second video opens with a little boy dressed in a magician’s costume. He’s standing in front of 6 teaspoons of sugar. He tells his dad: “I can make all this sugar disappear.” His dad smiles and says: “Show me.” The boy covers the teaspoons with his magician’s hat and then pulls the hat away, showing that the large amount of sugar is now in an 8-ounce glass of a sweetened powdered drink. The boy quickly drinks the orange-flavored beverage, making all that added sugar disappear in just a few gulps.
The message states that these drinks are often labeled in ways to make them seem healthy. The front of the label might say “100% Vitamin C,” or show a picture of a fruit. That drink, however, may not be made with any fruit and can contain more sugar than your child should have in one day.
The small glass of a powdered drink pictured in this new message can have about 6 teaspoons of added sugar. A small cranberry raspberry-flavored drink, like the one featured in last year’s Play Every Day video, can have 8 teaspoons of added sugar. That’s the same amount of sugar found in eight chocolate mini doughnuts.
Sugary drinks remain the leading source of added sugars, for kids and adults
Sugary drinks are the most common source of added sugars each day, for kids and for adults. That includes powdered and fruit-flavored drinks; sports, energy and vitamins drinks; soda; and sweetened coffees and teas. Another common sugar-added drink for little kids is chocolate and flavored milk.
Last year, four leading health organizations worked together to share a new report called “Healthy Drinks, Healthy Kids.” These groups agree: Sugary drinks of all kinds are not recommended for children ages 5 and younger. Limiting added sugar each day is good for the health of older children and adults, too. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting the amount of sugar older children and adults eat and drink to less than 10 percent of their daily calories. Even small fruit drinks can be packed with that much sugar, even more.
Play Every Day’s new magic-focused message shows a dad reading the front and back of the drink’s label. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires the Nutrition Facts labels to clearly list the added sugar on a special line under “Total Carbohydrate.” The powdered drink featured in Play Every Day’s message, for example, has 22 grams of added sugar in an 8-ounce glass. For this example, 22 grams of sugar is about 6 teaspoons — the amount the little boy displays in the first scene of the video.
Play Every Day continues to update its messages to encourage families to serve healthier drinks to children from the very beginning:
- Birth to 1 year — Choose breast milk or iron-fortified formula only.
- 1 – 2 years old — Serve water and pasteurized whole white milk.
- 2 – 6 years old — Serve water and pasteurized fat-free (skim or nonfat) or low-fat (1%) white milk.
The campaign’s new message ends with a flip of the magician’s cape, revealing a full glass of water.
“There’s no illusion about this healthy drink,” the message says. “It’s just water, and it’s what kids need.”