Why drinking water between meals is a better alternative to the sugary drinks of yesterday — and today.
By Jessica Mahaffey
I was a Kool-Aid kid.
The sweet drink fueled my summertime adventures in Waterton Canyon. I remember whipping up my cousin Matt’s favorite flavor (orange) instead of my favorite (grape) because my mom insisted I be polite to guests.
But oh, how times have changed. Today’s parents are replacing pitchers of Kool-Aid with seemingly healthier options like milk, sports drinks and fruit juices.
But these “healthy” drinks can have surprisingly large amounts of sugar, a point powerfully illustrated in Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation’s Cavities Get Around campaign about the link between what kids are drinking and childhood tooth decay.
What’s the big deal about sugar? Dental health experts say sugar fuels cavities and impacts oral health. According to the foundation, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease of childhood, affecting more than 40 percent of kindergartners in Colorado. More than half of all children in our state will experience tooth decay by the third grade. Children in Hispanic and low-income communities — where there is mistrust of tap water — are disproportionately impacted.
“Poor oral health can set children up for a lifelong struggle,” said Wyatt Hornsby, campaign director at Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation. “It’s hard to form words, focus in school, sleep and play when you’re in pain. That’s why we’re focusing on one of the root causes of tooth decay in kids: sugar.”
How much sugar is in these drinks? More than you might think.
|Beverage||Serving Size (ounces)||Sugar (teaspoons)||Sugar (grams)|
|Kool-Aid||8 oz||4.4 tsp||22g|
|Orange Juice||8 oz||6.6 tsp||33g|
|Apple Juice Box||6.8 oz||4.2 tsp||21g|
|Grape Juice||8 oz||7.2 tsp||36g|
|Gatorade||8 oz||4.2 tsp||21g|
|Chocolate Milk||8 oz||4.8 tsp||24g|
So what does this have to do with us? Water, of course.
Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation encourages parents to limit sugary drinks at home and school and serve only water between meals and at bedtime.
“Our research has shown that juices and sugary drinks are major sources of sugar for many children,” said Hornsby. “Water, on the other hand, helps protect a child’s teeth from decay when it’s from the tap and contains fluoride.”
Consider this Kool-Aid kid reformed.