Soda and Kids: A Slippery Slope or a Treat in Moderation?
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Soda- or pop- has become a ubiquitous part of American culture, with 60% of kids ages 2 to 19 consuming at least one sugary drink per day. With the rise of childhood obesity and other health concerns, the question of whether kids should be allowed to drink soda has become a hotly debated topic.
While some parents believe soda is okay in moderation, others argue it should be completely off-limits. So, what’s the right answer?
The Moderation Debate
On a Reddit thread, the consensus among parents seemed to be that soda is okay in moderation. Many cited their own experiences growing up with soda as a treat, but not an everyday occurrence. However, the reality is that many parents don’t stick to this “moderation” rule.
It’s not uncommon to see shopping carts filled with 2-liter bottles of soda and kids snacking on candy in the grocery store. So, how do we teach kids to enjoy sugar in moderation?
The Dangers of Restriction
Some experts argue that restricting kids from sugary drinks can actually lead to more harm than good. When kids are told that something is off-limits, it can create an obsession and lead to later overconsumption or disordered eating. We’ve seen this play out with the drinking age in the United States. Banning alcohol for those under 21 has led to dangerous binge drinking behaviors once kids reach college age.
Could the same be true for sugary drinks? Since it appears teenagers are the biggest consumers of sugary drinks, where they can purchase a soda from school vending machines (without any parental guidance like our younger kids), it could be.
The Risks of Exposure
On the other hand, many parents and health experts believe that the risks of exposing kids to soda at a young age are too great. Sugar is addictive and can lead to a host of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, periodontal disease, and heart disease. Some people have even reported growing up with soda as a regular part of their diet and suffering from major health issues as a result.
So, what’s the solution?
The Third Way
There is a third way to approach this debate. Instead of relying on moderation or restriction, parents can choose to simply not have soda around their kids at a young age. This doesn’t mean completely banning it, but rather, not keeping it in the house or offering it as a regular part of meals- and not making of a big deal of it either way.
This approach is grounded in the idea that young children are impressionable and can be influenced by their parent’s behavior. If they don’t see their parents drinking it, why would they? Of course, this only works on young children that aren’t primarily influenced by their peers and school friends.
Leading by Example
Parents who choose this approach are modeling healthy habits for their kids. Instead of drinking soda themselves, they may offer water or other healthy alternatives (primarily water). By not having soda around, kids may be unaware of it as an option. This approach takes the pressure off of parents to constantly monitor their children’s sugar intake and instead focuses on creating a healthy environment at home.
The debate around soda and kids is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon. There are many factors at play, including sneaky marketing, school policies, and individual parenting styles. However, by focusing on moderation, restriction, or simply not having soda around, parents can take steps to promote healthy habits in their children.
Ultimately, it’s up to each family to decide what works best for them but staying informed and making intentional choices about what we feed our kids is important.
Read the full thread here.