Are sugary drinks getting a bum rap?
Three studies published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine conclude that sugary drinks play a leading role in the nation's obesity epidemic.
People are drinking more sodas than ever before—especially kids. According to the studies, between 1977 and 2002, the number of calories Americans consumed from them doubled.
Yes. Sugary drinks are bad. I stopped drinking sodas years ago for a number of reasons. Why drink your calories when you can eat them? Besides, the sugar in them always makes me feel nervous and edgy and then tired. I don't have sodas in the house. Whenever I tell my children not to order sodas at restaurants, my oldest thinks I'm being cheap. (Although really—sodas are a rip off!). But I see an instant change in my kids' personality—from calm to manic.
As much as I'm not a fan, I believe soda is the scapegoat for this epidemic. Furthermore, the American Beverage Association notes that consumption of these drinks has decreased during the last few years, yet obesity rates are still on the rise. And childhood obesity has reached crisis proportions. Why is this? Could there be other evils lurking?
This is the most sedentary generation that has ever existed since the beginning of time. Back in the good old days, we weren't obsessed with health foods and we weren't fat. Those are the facts. We'd eat candy and cakes and ice cream for snacks. We'd have sugary sodas and drinks. Then we'd get on our bikes and ride with our posse. Or we'd play tag or kickball or soccer. We only sat still when it was time for dinner… and dessert.
Right now, it's a beautiful Sunday morning in Los Angeles. I open my front door to silence. There are no children running around, playing. Inside my house, my children are glued to their iPads. My daughters' school made this a mandatory requirement for all students. I still don't see the benefit of this tool. My girls waste time playing games on them while pretending to do homework. (And they're very adept at switching from game to homework when I try to sneak up on them). Despite the schools' bogus claims, these iPads are not making these children smarter or better students. However, they are more sedentary than they've ever been. A few parents have complained to me that ever since these iPads have come into their lives, their children have gotten chubby.
The other day, my seven-year-old daughter had a friend over. They went outside to play. I pictured them doing what I did at that age—running around, chasing each other, exploring. A few minutes later I went to check on them. They were lying on the grass, each glued to an iPad.
"I thought you were playing," I said.
"We are," my daughter answered.
She wasn't been a wiseass, as far as she was concerned, this was true.
iPads and other electronic devices have become the new tag.
And to me, this is the real problem—far more insidious than sugary drinks.