Sugar Science Explains Urgency of Drinking Water Promotion
Sugary drinks are the largest single source of calories and added sugars in the U.S. diet, particularly those of children and youths. Growing scientific evidence indicates that, independent of calories, added sugars have detrimental metabolic effects that are not due to weight gain and occur even in the absence of weight gain. Diet-related diseases are increasingly at crisis level in the U.S. Low-income communities and communities of color are targeted for sugary drink marketing and are more likely to have corner stores laden with junk foods, at the same time that their access to healthcare may be impaired, making this an equity issue as well as a health catastrophe.
Science to understand the role of sugar in the diet underlies the importance of work to ensure that plain water is a feasible and attractive alternative to sugary drinks.
The University of California Research Consortium on Beverages and Health, a UC-wide research group specializing in all aspects of sugar science, submitted a letter to Congressional child nutrition reauthorization committees with key points from the science describing the importance of a standard for added sugars for school meals. A standard for added sugars would also impact serving of flavored milks with school meals.
A PhotoVoice project documenting school meals performed as part of community-based research in California’s Central Valley uncovered the fact that parents want less-sweet school meals. The brief, “Kids Are Sweeter with Less Sugar,” highlights parents’ photos and comments.
Strategies to improve child nutrition are all the more important given research showing the nearly doubled rate of children’s weight gain during the COVID-19 pandemic.