While waist watchers are conscious of calories, many mindless munchers forget to add up all of the calories that they consume from beverages. This oversight can be costly, since we sip up to 20% of our calories each day.
Interestingly, if you lived in Manhattan, ordering an 18-ounce soda would be impossible. As of September 2012, the New York City Board of Health approved a ban on sugar-sweetened drinks larger than 16 ounces. The ban applies to all restaurants, fast-food joints, movie theatres and sports stadiums.
While the ban is intended to help people reduce their intake of excess sugar and calories, the plan has elicited outrage from many, including representatives of the restaurant and beverage industries. They worry the ban will damage business.
But what about the health damage caused by the excessive consumption of sugary drinks?
The average sugar intake in the US and Canada is over 22 teaspoons a day, lots of which comes from sweetened beverages. However, the American Heart Association suggests a consumption of no more than seven (for women) and nine (for men) teaspoons of sugar each day as part of a healthy diet. Excessive sugar consumption has been linked with high triglycerides and weight gain, both of which increase the risk of developing heart disease.
Of course, there is no ban in NYC on one person ordering two 16-ounce sodas, and the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages that people drink at home cannot possibly be monitored… so will this ban make any difference at all? It’s too soon to say, but it will certainly be a story that researchers – and restaurateurs – will be monitoring closely.
For most Canadian adults, 20% of daily calories come from beverages, and only about 50% of people are drinking milk. Soda pop, fruity drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages fill out the majority of those calories… and are filling out our waistlines too.
At all ages, water is the beverage consumed by the highest percentage of people and in the greatest quantities. However, water has no calories, so it does not account for the 400 calories that we get from beverages each day. It’s always the smartest choice.
Offer better beverages
If health is a priority in your establishment, have a good look at your beverage display. Consider making the following changes:
- Display water in a prominent spot. Studies show that if it is displayed in a well-lit spot in the front of the beverage case, it will be selected more often.
- Ensure that skim, 1% and chocolate milk are available. While these beverages contain sugar, they also contain protein, which blunts the spike in blood sugar levels. Milk also contains 15 other essential vitamins and minerals, while pop contains none.
- Skip the sugar-sweetened fruit drinks and serve juice only. Offer juice in portion-controlled 235 mL bottles.
- Offer 355 mL cans of pop rather than 591 mL bottler