Would you let your child play Russian roulette?

No, this is not a rhetorical question. There is no way in the world anyone would want to let a kid play this type of game. I love kids, I have two of my own and in all honesty, I love it when my patients bring their children into the dental office. Nothing makes my day more than having the opportunity to try and talk with them and find out what they are learning in school or what they are doing for fun. Our dental office is currently doing whitening where are the proceeds go to children’s charities…50% to the charity of my choice which is the Hollywood-Wilshire YMCA’s School Based Programs at your Local Elementary School. Yes I love kids and there is no way I would let a child play with a loaded gun.

Yet, that is what parents around the country are doing all the time when they let their children drink beverages with sugar in them. Sodas, fruit juices, sports and energy drinks are just some of the sugary drinks. Besides helping promote cavities (something I have to deal with daily in my Los Angeles dental office) sugary drinks are helping to fuel the obesity epidemic that is ravaging the United States and is creating similar issues around the world today.

One of the first problems with drinking sweetened beverages is that there are calories in them. Unfortunately, most people do not account for the calories in these beverages so they eat as many calories as if they were drinking water. These extra calories add up and before you know it the weight gains begin. Drinking just one can of soda a day adds over 30 pounds of sugar consumption a year (this is the low number. According to the NYC Health Department the figure is closer to 50 pounds of extra sugar a year) and can lead to 15 extra pound of fat (and weight gain). But have you notices how there are no longer any 16 ounce bottles of Coke, but they are now 20 ounces. The Super Big Gulp at 7-11 can hold 64 ounces of soda (only 8 servings …that’s all)

The next problem with drinking sweet drinks is that it keeps conditioning the body to want sweet. According to Dr. David Katz of the Yale Prevention Center, sugar (and it’s various forms including the fake stuff) may be the most addictive ingredient in food. The more sugar in our food means we will go after even more sugar. And the manufacturers are happy to provide it. Dr. Katz even goes as far as to say manufacturers have actually helped create the addiction. And that means more calories and more obesity and diabetes and high medical costs.

Anyone who really knows me understands that I have a mission in my life. My job is as a dentist, that is how I support my family and my ability to give back to the different charities that I support. But I really want to make a difference on a bigger scale. I know that the only truth I know about health care is that it is all about personal responsibility. And the advertisers and food manufacturers are making it hard for personal responsibility to win.

So here is my challenge to you. Stop drinking sugary drinks. That means sodas, sports drinks and even fruit juices. Stop putting sugar in your coffee and your tea. You just don’t need it. I am not worried that Coke or Pepsi won’t make as much in profits anymore….I am concerned about your health. And drinking sugary drinks is just not healthy.

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