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County youth drink up the sugar
Study finds increase in sugary beverage consumption with local teens
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·         1 — Ranking of sugary drinks among all foods as the source of added sugar in the American diet

·         8 — Number of teaspoons of sugar in a 20-ounce sports drink (120 calories)

·         16 — Number of teaspoons of sugar in a 20-ounce bottle of soda (240 calories)

·         22 — Number of teaspoons of added sugar Americans consume daily (compared to recommended 6-9 teaspoons)

·         35 — Percent drop in price of the average sugar-sweetened beverage since the 1980s

·         38 — Percent decrease in energy intake from milk since 1977, the same period in which soda consumption has skyrocketed

·         39 — Pounds of sugar in the 45 gallons of sugar-sweetened drinks consumed annually by the average American

·         45 — Number of gallons of soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages the average American consumes annually

·         64 — Number of calories children need to reduce their daily intake by in order to meet the Healthy People 2020 goals for childhood obesity; less than one sugary drink a day

·         66 — Percentage of all high-fructose corn syrup in the United States that is consumed from beverages

·         149 — Percent increase in volume of average size soda sold in the 1950s compared to the average size soda sold today (from 6.5 oz to 16.2 oz)

·         450 — Number of different types of soft drinks produced by the big three soda companies

·         $850 — Amount spent by the average family each year on soft drinks

Information provided by UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and California Center for Public Health Advocacy

The number of kids in Stanislaus County that consume sugary drinks on a daily basis has grown slightly, according to a newly released health survey.

The statewide study produced by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, found that sugary beverage consumption among 2- to 17-year-olds in Stanislaus County increased by 2 percent during the 2011-12 time frame.

Stanislaus County was among the 10 California counties in the study that saw an increase in consumption. The other 48 counties saw their rates decline or stay flat from the previous studied period from 2005 to 2007.

The overall rate of sugary beverage consumption by youths in California declined by 11 percent, according to the “Still Bubbling Over: California Adolescents Drinking More Soda and Other Sugar-Sweetened Beverages” study.

"California has made real progress in reducing the consumption of sugary beverages among young children," said Dr. Susan Babey, the report's lead author. "But teens are in trouble. Soda or sports drinks should be an occasional treat, not a daily habit. If this trend isn't reversed there may be costly consequences for teens, their families and the health care system in the form of increased obesity and diabetes."

The survey interviewed more than 40,000 California households and charted their consumption patterns from 2005 to 2007 and from 2011 to 2012.

Among the study’s findings, was a drop in the proportion of young children drinking sugary beverages daily over the seven-year period. Only 19 percent of 2- to 5-year-olds drink a sugary beverage daily, a 30 percent decline from the 2005-2007 reporting period. Among 6- to 11-year-olds, 32 percent were daily consumers in 2011-12, representing a 26 percent drop since 2005-2007.

However, health officials were concerned by a significant rise among the biggest consumers of sugary drinks — adolescents (12- to 17-year-olds). Today, a full 65 percent of California adolescents drink sugary beverages daily, an 8 percent climb since 2005-2007. And while the study's authors point out that roughly the same proportion of these youth are drinking soda, 23 percent more are consuming energy and sports drinks every day.

"As parents learn more about the harm from consuming sugary drinks, they are limiting how much their children drink,” said Dr. Harold Goldstein, CCPHA's executive director. “Teens, however, are more independent, making them an ideal target for beverage companies that spend hundreds of millions of dollars marketing sugary drinks to them, including deceptively healthy-sounding beverages like sports drinks and vitamin water. We may not be able to protect teens everywhere but we should at least close the loophole in state law that allows beverages companies to sell sugary sports drinks on middle and high school campuses."

According to researchers, sugary drinks are the largest source of added sugar in the diets of children and adolescents and a significant contributor to total caloric intake. And unlike any other product that children consume in large quantities, sodas offer no nutritional value. Nearly 40 percent of California youth are overweight, and one-third of all children born in 2000, including half of Latino and African-American children, will develop diabetes sometime in their lives.

"Soda and other sugary drinks contribute half a billion empty calories a day to California’s costly childhood obesity crisis,” explained Dr. Robert Ross, president and chief executive officer of The California Endowment, which funded the study. “We have to redouble our efforts to protect our children, especially adolescents and children of color, from the unbridled marketing of high calorie drinks that is drowning our kids in sugar.” 

Stanislaus County has taken up the task of encouraging more residents to abstain from sugary beverages. The Stanislaus County Health Services Agency began a “Rethink Your Drink” campaign last year, which asked residents to make a pledge to put down the sugary drinks and pick up water instead.

The campaign is part of an ongoing effort by the health services agency to reduce rates of obesity and diabetes in the county.

The health services agency has been promoting the campaign at various health fairs and has collected more than 1,100 pledges through this year.

“There is a lot of information out there about sodas, but not with all the other sugary drinks like sports, drinks, vitamin water and energy drinks,” said Phoebe Leung, the interim assistant director at the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency. “They are surprised to learn how much empty calories and sugar content are in these drinks.”

The Turlock Unified School District has been making efforts to lessen the number of sugary drinks consumed by students. Several years ago the district removed all soda vending machines from the campuses. Students can purchase water and milk. Sports drinks are available in the gymnasium vending machines, said Scott Soiseth, the director of child nutrition for the district.