Ask Dr. Gigi

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Sugar-sweetened beverages contribute to childhood obesity

Dr. Gigi Chawla on WCCO Mid-Morning
Dr. Gigi Chawla (right) and WCCO “Mid-Morning” hosts Kylie Bearse and Jason DeRusha discuss sugar-sweetened beverages and childhood obesity.

Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gigi Chawla, MD, senior medical director of primary care at Children’s Minnesota, joined WCCO Mid-Morning hosts Kylie Bearse and Jason DeRusha to discuss how sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda, juice and energy drinks are one of the contributing factors [WATCH].

A typical can of soda contains about 40 grams of sugar, which equals 8 teaspoons. The recommended daily sugar intake for a child is 3 teaspoons.


Sugar-sweetened beverages contain high-fructose corn syrup, which is more difficult for the body to process compared to simple sugars, such as glucose, which exist in orange juice.

Sugar-sweetened beverages cola snack cakesAlternatives

  • Water is great for a person’s health and quenching thirst.
  • And if that feels too plain sometimes, feel free to infuse water with fruit for changes in taste.

In addition to obesity, sugar-sweetened beverages also contribute to tooth decay and hypertension, and, long term, can lead to significant health problems in adulthood.


A 16 oz. energy drink has as much sugar as 15 cookies