As a parent, you want what’s best for your little one, head-to-toe. That means protecting their pearly whites, too.
According to a survey of about 100 parents (n=102) in the Denver metro area, led by the Healthy Beverage Partnership in 2016, the top concern about sugary drinks is their negative effect on dental health.1 More than 40 percent of the parents surveyed said they were worried about the impact sugar-sweetened beverages could have on their children’s teeth.1 We know from the State of Colorado child oral health statistics that tooth decay affects 40% of kindergartners and 55% of third-graders, hitting Hispanic children and kids from low-income families especially hard.2
But by reducing the number of sugary drinks your family consumes, you can help protect your child’s teeth and their overall health. February is National Children’s Dental Health Month — the perfect time for your family to take the 30-day Healthy Drink Pledge from the Healthy Beverage Partnership, a regional partnership of local health departments, including Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH).
“Pledging to serve your family healthy drinks is an easy way to hold yourself accountable, while having the chance to get rewarded for making a healthy choice,” said Allison Wilson, Jeffco Sips Smart Project Administrator at JCPH. “Families who take the pledge will be entered to win a family membership to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science or an annual pass to the Colorado State Parks.” Jeffco Sips Smart is a community-based coalition of individuals and community partners interested in promoting healthy drink options for youth and families.
The health benefits of skipping sugary beverages stretch beyond kids’ dental health. Just one sugary drink per day leads to a 25 percent increase in risk for type 2 diabetes and a 33 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease. Children who drink one sugary beverage per day are 55 percent more likely to be overweight or obese than children who don’t.
It can be tough to spot the hidden sugar in the beverages your kids may reach for on shelves or in vending machines. Did you know that a 10-ounce bottle of fruit punch has, on average, 10 teaspoons of sugar in it? That’s the equivalent of 10 chocolate chip cookies. Drinking a full bottle of soda is like nibbling down 17 cookies.
Once you can spot the hidden sugar, the next step is convincing a reluctant child. Wilson recommends serving water with slices of fruit in it, like limes, oranges or berries, to give kids a taste of sweetness, but no added sugar. You can get your kids involved in making new water recipes, combining fruits and herbs to find which flavors they like best.
Another option to get children excited about healthier drinks is to get them their own refillable water bottle — for older youth, show them water bottle flip tricks on YouTube — so they’re more likely to reach for a refill during the day instead of heading to a vending machine.
“It can be hard to change the way you do things, but once you make the switch, you’ll be glad you did,” Wilson said. “Kids are versatile. They may be resistant at first to give up sugary drinks, but soon, they’ll be just as quick to grab a water as they were a sports drink.”
This February, take the pledge — serve your family fewer sugary drinks for 30 days, protect your kids’ dental health and start them on a healthier path. For more information and to take the Healthy Drink Pledge, go to www.hidden-sugar.org. Para más información y para tomar el compromiso de las bebidas saludables, visita el sitio web www.azucaroculta.org.
Jefferson County Public Health, and other regional health departments that participate in the Healthy Beverage Partnership, are working with area dentists to help spread the word about Hidden Sugar, as well as how Cavities Get Around, a campaign by partner organization Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation. To learn more about this parallel effort, go to cavitiesgetaround.com.
The Healthy Beverage Partnership
The Healthy Beverage Partnership works to reduce obesity and related chronic diseases in the Denver metro region. The Partnership is sponsored by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment through the Cancer, Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Disease (CCPD) Grants Program. The “Hidden Sugar” campaign is coordinated by Denver Public Health, in partnership with local public health and environment agencies in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson Counties.
About Jefferson County Public Health
Public health is what we as a society do collectively to prevent illness and premature death and promote health in our neighborhoods and communities. Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) is committed to promoting and protecting health across the lifespan through prevention, education and partnerships for all people. To learn more about JCPH, visit https://www.jeffco.us/public-health. You can also follow JCPH on Twitter @JeffcoPH and Facebook @jeffcopublichealth.
1: The AND Group. Metro Healthy Beverage Partnership Research Quantitative Study Results (2016). JCPH can provide a survey report brief upon request.
2: Prevention Services Division. Chew on This: 2012 Report on the Oral Disease Burden in Colorado (Denver: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 2012.)