Mighty Blog

The not-so-sweet truth about sugar-sweetened beverages

Sugar and spice makes everything nice, but how much sugar makes something not so nice? There’s a not-so-sweet truth about sugar — it’s hidden in many of the foods and beverages we enjoy every day. In fact, it’s likely you’re consuming more sugar than you might realize.

The average person consumes roughly 22 teaspoons of sugar a day. Almost half of these sugars come from beverages.

Too much sugar can:

  • Crash your energy
  • Make it hard to maintain a healthy weight
  • Cause cavities

So, what exactly are sugary drinks?

Any drink that has sugar added to it; this includes soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, lemonade, sweetened teas, hot chocolate and fancy coffees.

How can you tell how much sugar a drink contains?

Check the ingredient list on the packaging. If you spot words like: high fructose, corn syrup, cane syrup, maltose, honey or molasses, it’s a sugary drink.

Would you eat 15 cookies in one sitting? No way! However, some of those sugar-sweetened beverages you’re drinking may contain the same amount of sugar. Check it out:

  • 16 oz. mocha = 14 milk chocolates
  • 20 oz. cola = 5 snack cakes
  • 32 oz. sports drink = 5 glazed donuts
  • 16 oz. energy drink = 15 cookies
  • 20 oz. sweet tea = 12 chocolate sandwich cookies
  • 20 oz. lemonade = 15 chocolate sandwich cookies

Sugar-sweetened beverages cola snack cakesSugar-sweetened beverages energy drink cookiesSugar-sweetened beverages lemonade chocolate sandwich cookiesSugar-sweetened beverages mocha milk chocolatesSugar-sweetened beverages sports drink glazed donutsSugar-sweetened beverages sweet tea chocolate sandwich cookies

As you see, sugary drinks are a good place to start slashing sugar from your diet.

That’s why effective May 2, Children’s Minnesota will eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages (beverages that are sweetened with added sugars or other caloric sweeteners) in our facilities. As a health care organization and a pediatric system that lives by our value to put “Kids first,” Children’s Minnesota wants to model healthier behavior to help make the better choice the easy choice for all who visit and work in our facilities. You’ll start to see differences in what we sell in our cafeterias, vending machines and coffee shops, including an expanded selection of better-for-you beverages.

What is a better-for-you beverage option?

  • Water or sparkling water
  • Real fruit-infused water and teas
  • 100 percent fruit juice
  • Milk or milk alternatives
  • Coffee
  • Black, green or herbal tea

View Children’s Minnesota’s official press release announcing the elimination of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Madeline Riggs