Summer Savings! Get unlimited digital access for 13 weeks for $13.

Readers Respond

News Opinion Readers Respond

Sugary drinks and the epidemic childhood obesity [Letter]

Reporter Meredith Cohn's recent article about the World Health Organization's new sugar recommendations highlighted the concerns of medical and public health experts over the epidemic of childhood obesity ("Officials urge consumers to cut back on sugar," March 21).

Sugar in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages is in fact the leading contributor to the obesity epidemic. According to the Institute of Medicine's 2012 report, a full 20 percent of the nation's weight increase since 1977 can be directly attributed to sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks, energy drinks and sweetened juices and teas.

The effects are devastating. Today in Maryland, one in three children is overweight or obese, and rates of teen diabetes have nearly tripled over the last decade. Children as young as 10 are being diagnosed with pre-diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, stroke and other chronic illnesses. These children are far more likely to become overweight or obese as adolescents and adults.

Moreover, the costs related to obesity are astronomic -- an estimated $300 billion nationwide in increased health care spending and lost productivity.

The challenge lies in the prevalence of these drinks in the places our kids live, learn and play. A treat is fine, but today these drinks have become an everyday item, and the industry feeds this habit by marketing them as part of -- or in the case of sports drinks, a prerequisite for -- a health lifestyle.

Just one sugary drink a day -- 8 ounces -- increases a child's risk of becoming obese by 60 percent and increases that child's risk of diabetes by 30 percent.

We cannot possibly burn off all the calories we're drinking. As Ms. Cohn notes, one can of cola has more than twice the recommended daily limit of sugar for an adult.

Sugar Free Kids, led by strong and effective partners at MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society, The Horizon Foundation, the American Heart Association, the NAACP and others, is poised to meet the challenge of reducing the consumption of sugary drinks and reversing the upward trend of childhood obesity and teen diabetes in Maryland.

Our coalition has introduced two bills in Annapolis to improve the quality of restaurant meals for kids and support obesity prevention efforts in child care centers.

The time is now. If we don't make changes, this may be the first generation of children in history to have shorter lives than their parents.

Robi M. Rawl, Baltimore

The writer is executive director of Sugar Free Kids.

-
To respond to this letter, send an email to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Officials urge consumers to cut back on sugar

    Officials urge consumers to cut back on sugar

    Sugar salt fat diet World Health Organization Food and Drug Administration

  • FDA proposes new food labels

    FDA proposes new food labels

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to update the two-decade old labels on food that tell consumers about nutritional content to make the information more clear and to more accurately reflect what people eat.

  • Trump is the anti-politician

    Trump is the anti-politician

    Why are the press and both political parties so upset that Donald Trump is running for president ("The Trump lesson that Bush and Clinton should heed," July 27)? Could it be that he does not need someone else's money so the Democratic National Committee, GOP, George Soros or big business can't...

  • Gun laws aren't enforced

    Gun laws aren't enforced

    The people screaming for more gun control and more gun laws and all the other useless ideas should be finding out why the laws now in place are not being enforced. The last maniac to shoot up a theater should have never been able to purchase a gun but evidently some judge did not do her job ("Gunman...

  • Baltimore needs a transit plan

    Baltimore needs a transit plan

    Your Sunday editorial deplores the untimely demise of Baltimore's Red Line and ponders how the community and state should proceed to address Baltimore's continuing mobility and unemployment problems ("Picking up the pieces after the Red Line," July 26).

  • The Sun needs to drop its anti-cop agenda

    The Sun needs to drop its anti-cop agenda

    The Sun's continued drumbeat demonizing police officers is alarming and further evidenced through the entirely one-sided and dangerous editorial, "The limits of video" (July 23). It is well established that Officer Brian Encina had a right to pull over Sandra Bland, as minor a traffic offense as...

Comments
Loading

82°