Make sure children stay hydrated with health drinks

Did you know that one out of every six children in the U.S. is overweight, and that sweetened drinks tend to be a major factor in why they have weight problems?* In summertime, it’s especially tempting for kids to turn to soda and other sugary drinks for relief from the heat. But these beverages are not only fattening; they can also rot kids’ teeth and lead to serious health problems like diabetes.

Recently Mayor Bloomberg proposed that New York City restrict sales of sugary soft drinks to no more than 16 ounces a cup in city restaurants, movie theaters, stadiums and arenas. My boss, Healthfirst CEO Pat Wang, appeared at a press conference with him to show her support for the measure. Regardless of how you may feel about the mayor’s proposal, we can all agree that it’s better for kids to beat the heat with healthy, naturally refreshing drinks rather than weigh themselves down with artificially flavored and colored beverages loaded with sugar.

Here are a few ways you can help your child steer clear of sugary drinks:

·Substitute natural fruit juices (especially those mixed with vegetable juice) for soda and powered beverages high in sugar.

·Stock bottled water in the fridge so kids have easy access to them and can take one on the go.

·If you want to save money on store-bought purified water, use a water filter.

·Treat your family to chilled pitchers of fresh lemonade or decaffeinated ice tea (but go easy on the sugar).

Another important point to consider: If your child drinks lots of milk, you may want to switch to the low-fat kind. It’s still rich in calcium and Vitamin D, but it doesn’t contain all the fat of regular milk. Low-fat milk has fewer calories, too, so it’s a healthy drink option that can help keep kids slim and fit.

During the summer, particularly in August when the temperatures tend to go especially high, kids crave drinks that will cool them off. Why not quench their summer thirst with healthy beverages? They’ll feel better, and you will too knowing that they’re staying hydrated the healthy way.

George Hulse is vice president of External Affairs at Healthfirst. For more tips on leading a healthier lifestyle, visit the Healthfirst Healthy Living website at www.hfhealthyliving.com.

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