Last week I was at the library with Charlie and Sophia and I saw a child that wouldn’t have been much older than one drinking concentrated fruit drink from a baby’s bottle. It made me sad.
Kids, especially this young, don’t need juice or fruit drinks. They’re high in sugar – one 250ml glass has around 6 teaspoons – so it can damage growing teeth. There’s also convincing evidence that drinking sugary drinks leads to weight gain in children because they don’t adjust their food intake to take account of the extra kilojoules.
Unfortunately, our Kiwi kids love sugary drinks – more than a quarter of the sugar in our children’s diets come from such drinks. And it shows. The 2011/12 New Zealand Health Survey found that 34,000 children aged one to 14 years had a tooth removed in the past year because of decay, abscess or infection. The same survey found that 21 percent of children aged 2-14 years were overweight and a further 10 percent were obese.
Some researchers and public health doctors are so concerned that they have formed an organisation called FIZZ (“Fighting Sugar in Soft Drinks”). FIZZ wants to achieve a sugary-drink-free New Zealand by 2025 and is pushing for taxes on sugary drinks and other restrictions on their sales and marketing.
Consumer agrees that the evidence is now strong enough to support such measures and the government should look at initiatives to reduce the over-consumption of sugary drinks in New Zealand, especially by children.
As parents we can make sure that milk and water are the drink of choice for our growing kids. For a start water is free and I’m sure none of us are intentionally trying to damage our kids’ teeth.
You can check out Consumer’s full report on sugar and find out other ways sugar sneaks into our diet at www.consumer.org.nz.
Author: Belinda Allan, Consumer NZ