Making the healthy drink choice

April 9, 2010 4:52:24 PM PDT
It's a hot topic in Albany: Should sugary sodas be taxed?

While politicians debate it, doctors are talking also talking about the drinks and their health effects.

A smoothie to quench a summer thirst instead of sugary sodas is the healthy choice.

And that was the point of Friday's health fair at Montefiore: To teach kids and their parents about avoiding the sugary drinks that can make kids fat and create childhood diabetes (never seen until the last few years, especially in the Bronx).

"This borough with 1.5 million people and 500,000 children has obesity rates that are off the charts," Dr. Steven Safyer of Montefiore Medical Center said.

Some parents are aware that even fruit juice can have as much sugar as soda for after school treats.

"You have juice, milk and water in school, but when you come home, you can have one juice and for the rest of the evening you're going to have water," parent Rashida Hawkins explained.

You might be surprised at just how much sugar is in one soda. A 20 ounce soda contains 17 teaspoons of sugar!

How can avoiding that sugar make a difference?

"Drinking one can of soda less a day can translate into ten pounds less of weight gain every year," Dr. Philip Ozuah of Children's Hospital at Montefiore said.

There are some who say you can't legislate health with a new tax of sodas, but the deputy health commissioner hopes the same thing will happen with soda as happened with cigarettes.

"When we increased the price of cigarettes, we saw a tremendous decline in smoking," Dr. Andy Goodman said.

But the real test of sugar substitutes, such as fruit smoothies, is the taste test.

"I think it's just as good as soda, but this is more nutritious and the other one is just a lot of sugar," Giselle Delgado, 11, said.

"Soda might be good too, but I think this (smoothie) is much better cause it's healthier," Shada Herndon, 10, said.

And their mother wasn't listening to their answers, either. The blender lady added some seltzer water to the fruit smoothies -- half and half. That cut down the fruit calories. It tasted pretty good to me as well.

Tax or no tax on soda, this fair taught children that there are choices and tasty ones at that.