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Demon Soda (warning - I'm on a rant!)

Given the epidemic of childhood obesity and juvenile-onset diabetes in this country, it astonishes me that that there isn't more of a movement to ban the marketing of soda to kids. A typical 12-oz can contains between 10 and 14 teaspoons of sugar (and I'm not even going to get into the whole "white sugar-vs-HFCS" debate, they're equally bad in this regard). That's roughly 1/4 cup of sugar per can - and most single-serving bottles are even larger, 16 to 20 ounces.

If you put a big scoop of sugar on a plate and served it to a kid you could rightly be accused of child abuse, or at least depraved indifference. Yet people give sodas to their children without a second thought.

Am I the only one who thinks this is beyond insane?

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  1. My ex-wife and I do not give sodas to out daughter (5 1/2 year old).

    1. I agree Bob!

      When my daughters were little we never had any canned drinks in our home. I would make koolaid and not even put the recommended amount of sugar in it. When they tasted it at other peoples home they thought it was nasty and too sweet. If we went out to eat they could have a sprite but only with extra ice, never straight from the can. As they got older it was harder to control and they started drinking canned sodas away from home, but I still wouldn't buy them. Then their dad started bringing cases of soda home - drat! They were teens and had lots of friends hanging around so it was the store brand stuff, but I still didn't like it. Neither one of them had a weight problem, though. Now as adults they are both soda addicts and aren't really over weight but can't understand why they can't lose those last 10 pounds. *sigh* I just hope that the one with children doesn't start giving them sodas in the can! I never will!

      1 Reply
      1. re: danhole

        Our pediatrician is always happy to see that Dana Zsofia is slim. Most Colombian parents want to have chubby kids - although there is almost no adult or teen obesity here.

      2. I agree with you BobB, to a point...

        Sodas were a treat when I was a kid, and then the three of us had to share a bottle, so we really only got a cup’s worth. Otherwise we drank milk, kool-aid or water. After I was grown, my soda consumption grew and has leveled off through my thirties and forties. I’m much more inclined to drink beer anyway. ;-)

        While I do believe that our nation’s youth drinks more soda than is good for them, I don’t think banning advertising is the answer. Instead, I’d rather see parents step up and not rely on sodas to hydrate their kids. BTW, I don’t think it’s just sodas either, it’s those “fruity drinks” like Capri Sun, etc. I also don’t feel that switching to “diet” sodas would be much of a solution.

        I’ve speculated about this often, but how to get people to make changes in consumption (without the law’s intervention) is beyond my ken.

        1. And it isn't just the sugar/HFCS content that causes problems: most sodas contain caffiene, which can cause headaches, hyperactivity in kids, and lead to dehydration; phosphates/phosphorus, the consumption of which can cause calcium to be leached from our bones,weakening them and low blood calcium levels; and acids which cause erosion of the enamel on our teeth and increased tooth decay.

          I don't think anything should be marketed to children. They are too impressionable and unequipped to analyze the advertising and marketing aimed at them. Should such marketing be banned? Not in a free society. But I do think more needs to be done to get people to understand the health risks and make educated choices. Soda is a nice treat once in a while, but something has gone awry when people are drinking it every day.

          1. I'm not defending "liquid candy" but your math is a little off. A cup of sugar has 770 calories and a 12oz can of coke has 155 calories, so it's more accurately 1/5 cup of sugar.

            3 Replies
            1. re: ferret

              Right. One tsp sugar = 16 cal; 10 tsp in soda = 160 cal; 10 tsp = 0.21 (1/5) cup of sugar. But that still is way too much sugar for kids. I support BobB's rant.

              1. re: ferret

                I said about 1/4 cup - coke is on the lower side with "only" 10 tsps, fruity sodas like Welch's grape and orange Slice actually have more than 1/4 cup. Reference: http://education.wichita.edu/caduceus...

                1. re: BobB

                  Actually, Welch's at 190 calories is just 1/4 cup. Just keeping your counts honest. I otherwise agree wholeheartedly.

              2. Everything in moderation. First, when I see commercials for Coke or Pepsi, I never see them targeted at children. Adults and young adults (ie Pepsi's what would you do if you could go back in time campaign) are the focus. Maybe its just the commercials I've seen though.

                Like cuccubear mentioned, pop should be a treat and the responsibility lies with the parent. But I think banning pop from kids is not right either: every kid that I know that was denied pop, or television or chips goes CRAZY when they finally get the freedom to have it and go overboard. Moderation is the key in my opinion.

                4 Replies
                1. re: LOTW

                  Good points. Additionally, many school districts are limiting what can be sold at schools, especially at elementary and middle schools. Nonetheless, studies have shown that it doesn't make much of a difference on children's soft drink consumption. That said, some of the food available in schools is absolutely atrocious. When I worked in schools about 8 years ago, children had access to huge cups of ice cream, chicken fingers and fries on gigantic plates, and other unacceptable foods.

                  Ultimately the responsibility lies with the parents. Even if a product is marketed to children, it's not like a child has the money or ability to head out to the store and buy anything without help from the parents. I was a skinny child who had lots of sugar as a child because that's what I wanted to eat and I really needed the calories. For other children, the same amount of sugar might make them obese.

                  1. re: LOTW

                    You raise an interesting point about kids being deprived of it. My father worked for a soft drink company when I was growing up. There was always lot of product around the house but I didn't have much interest in it and almost never buy it now for myself. I just don't care about it and it holds no real appeal to me. My husband, on the other hand, loves pop and chooses it over water or juice, despite my best efforts to get him to stop it. I don't think his family could really afford it growing up. He's skinny but it still isn't healthy for him! It's definitely up to parents to be responsible about what their kids are drinking.

                    1. re: LOTW

                      I agree here. We live in a world of many options these days in the U.S. Educating parents... AND kids... about what is healthy and why is the best strategy, I think... rather than society-wide restrictions.

                      Here's an older article about juice, even good juice, and how it can trump sodas in sugar content. (But let me say that it's really hard to find juice that doesn't have things added, even if it claims to be basically just juice, read the detailed label. So many things are whatever juice with added corn syrup and water, or at least added white grape juice, and not the probably naturally far less sweet juice of whatever a person thinks they're buying.)

                      1. re: LOTW

                        Speaking as someone who watches way too much children's television, commercials geared toward kids tend to cereals, fruit punch, etc. Coke & Pepsi (even in countries outside the US) all have very slick commercials that are clearly geared toward a crowd that have already made their choices on sugary drinks.

                        Preaching moderation is great. Wanting to educate children and adults on better nutrition is also great. Advocating "demon soda," however, is a bit of a strawman argument, methinks.

                      2. Those vile "juice" boxes are pretty bad.

                        1. I have been drinking at least three cans of Coke a day since I was about 10, even had it with breakfast. I still practice this. I am 43 years old with no health problems and am the ideal weight for my height and age. I agree to limit it to susceptible children, but beyond that I think people tend to overreact to scientific alarmism...

                          1. Bob, I think you're right on. When myson was little we didn't keep sodas in the house, nor did we have desserts lying around. With an abundance of weight problems on both sides of his family, I concentrated on proteins and egetables. He was a skinny kid, being a picky eater when he was young, and didn't really have that riotous appetite that kids are famous for and I'm sure there were whispers about how much I wasn't feeding him, but honestly, I;m not going to give him ice cream and sodas just ecause he's thin.

                            He's twenty now, six foot four, lean and muscular. He took a nutrition class last semester, and actually thanked me for not having dessert after every meal (I nearly fainted) when he was growing up, although at the time he wuld tell his friend he was ice cream-deprived his whole life. Oh- and he's never had a cavity, either.

                            Forgive me my brag, BobB, but you echo my whole attitude about what you should be feeding children- and adults, for that matter. Too much sugar is toomuch sugar. Moderation doesn't seem to be practiced at all.

                            1. I hope soda makers market MORE to kids.

                              This will make more kids fat.

                              Which in in turn will make my kids, who do not drink soda, appear even more attractive, more fit, and more athletic. Ergo, my kids will just be better!

                              More soda for kids. Hooray!

                              1. I just wish that everyone would teach their kids that WATER is for thirst - soda and juice and flavoured drinks are a treat.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Kajikit

                                  yes, exactly... water is for thirst.

                                  having kicked a 6pack a day habit of coke about 9 months ago, i can tell you just on the "withdrawal" symptoms I had that it was not a good habit. no, I have not dropped 30 pounds, only 10, but more importantly I stopped gaining weight. When you put on a couple of pounds a month, in only a few short years you end up adding a lot of cumulative weight.

                                  I now drink a couple or three glasses of iced tea (no sugar or other sweetener, just fresh lemon whenever possible.) Club soda is also a good alternative when i feel the need for fizz.