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We have all heard the popular Mary Poppins song “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” But did you know that many kids are consuming dozens of spoonfuls of sugar every day and endangering their health?

March is National Nutrition Month, which is an opportune time to address a critical issue: more than 40 percent of the children in central Indiana are at an unhealthy weight. These children are significantly more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, bone and joint pain, and other chronic – but preventable diseases.

Some popular beverages listed below show how many teaspoons of sugar are in one drink!

  • Mountain Dew(R), 20 oz bottle, 290 calories, 18 teaspoons sugar
  • Pepsi(R), 20 oz bottle, 250 calories, 16 teaspoons sugar
  • Coca-Cola(R)Classic, 20 oz bottle, 240 calories, 15 teaspoons sugar
  • Minute Maid(R)Orange Juice, 16 oz bottle, 220 calories, 11 teaspoons sugar
  • PoweradeTM, 20 oz bottle, 125 calories, 8 teaspoons sugar
  • Glaceau Vitamin Water(R), 20 oz bottle, 125 calories, 8 teaspoons sugar
  • Starbucks Bottle Frappuccino(R), 9.5 oz bottle, 200 calories, 8 teaspoons sugar

Healthy alternatives for drinks:

  • Polar Seltzer(R)100% Natural Seltzer Water (all flavors), any size, 0 calories, 0 sugar
  • Water, any size, 0 calories, 0 sugar

Our culture has conspired to make it very difficult for families to make healthy choices. Food has become highly processed, calorie dense, and “super-sized.” Many families lack access to affordable, healthy food, and therefore do not have healthy, nutritious food choices available to them. Fast food restaurants become the default option for many families for many reasons.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics “families have a critical role in influencing children’s health and health is a real characteristic of the family lifestyle.”

Children who eat healthy and have an active lifestyle are more likely to:

  • maintain a healthy weight
  • have better self esteem
  • sleep better
  • do better academically, and
  • avoid health issues such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, bone and joint problems, etc.

Unfortunately, children today have fewer opportunities to play and be active, as recess and physical education classes have been reduced or cut entirely in schools. Too many kids spend too much time sitting in front of computer screens, tablets or smart phones. Many kids live in neighborhoods that lack safe places to play and access to healthy foods.

Jump IN for Healthy Kids is a community wide initiative to help create healthy environments where children and families have real opportunities to make healthy, affordable choices about eating nutritious foods and being physically active.

Jump IN partners with organizations like Social Health Association of Indiana to promote healthy policies and practices in schools, and we are doing the same with other groups working with child care centers, youth organizations and employers.

So how do families instill healthy habits in children?  One way is for youth and parents to learn a simple but effective program called “5-2-1-0.”

5 or more fruits & vegetables

2 hours or less recreational screen time*

1 hour or more of physical activity

0 sugary drinks, more water & low fat milk

*Keep TV/Computer out of the bedroom. No screen time under the age of 2.

Resources for Parents: