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Growing Healthy Kids


Krizia Melendez, PhD, MPH, CHES
Health Program Manager, 
[email protected]


WFFT Sugar Sweetened Beverages

What are Sugar Sweetened Beverages and how do they affect my health?

SSB is any non-alcoholic beverage that contains added caloric sweeteners, examples include soda, fruit drinks, sports drinks and sweet teas.1

  • Sugar sweetened beverages are the biggest source of added sugars in the American diet.2 

  • Children drink over 30 gallons of added sugars from beverages annually.2 

  • Among 2 to 5-year-olds, close to half (44%) consume a sugar sweetened beverage daily.3

  • Overconsumption of unhealthy beverages along with inadequate consumption of healthy beverages in early childhood can contribute to chronic diseases, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, or dental caries.

Watch this short video on the health effects of sugar (Sugar is Killing Us) 

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yda8RtOcVFU 

Click here for information on Dental services at Columbus Public Health.

What is the impact of Targeted Marketing on young children and communities of color?

The fast-food industry spent $5 billion on advertising in 2019, and the advertisements disproportionately targeted Black and Hispanic youth, according to research published by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut. The new report, Fast Food FACTS 2021, finds that the industry’s annual ad spending in 2019 increased by over $400 million since 2012, and that children and teens were viewing on average more than two fast food TV ads per day.4

Taste of Home 

Monica Mendoza introduces us to an unhealthy family tradition to analyze how sugar sweetened beverages impact Latino communities and contribute to the type 2 diabetes epidemic. (Available in Spanish)

400 Years 

Te's message exposes the aggressive marketing of the sugary drink industry to communities of color, and inspires actions to reduce consumption and reclaim community health.

Click here to learn more about Targeted Marketing

How much sugar are we drinking?

Many factors contribute to this epidemic, but numerous studies have found clear associations of sugary drink consumption with increased calorie intake and higher body weight. Almost two-thirds of US children aged 2-19 drink at least one sugary drink a day, and over half of US adults drink at least one sugary drink a day. Habitual consumption of sugary drinks has been linked to significant health risks for both adults and children. For adults, consumption has been linked to congestive heart disease, increased risk of hypertension and type 2 diabetes.  For children, one sugary drink each day increases their likelihood of developing obesity during their childhood by about 60%, increasing their risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and remaining overweight or obese as adults.   Hispanic and Black children consume more sugary drinks than White children and are more than twice as likely as white children to be obese(Kramer, 2015)., In addition, children in low-income families of all races are twice as likely to consume sugary drinks compared to children in high-income families.

Evolution of Portion Sizing

What are the recommendations for the amount of sugary drinks a child may have?

How much sugar is in your drink?

Rule of Four

Learn how to calculate the number of teaspoons in food and drinks.

What are the recommendations on artificial sweeteners?

The following are current recommendations from National Professional Associations: 

  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics - It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that “…consumers can safely enjoy a range of nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners when consumed within an eating plan that is guided by current federal nutrition recommendations, such as the dietary guidelines for Americans and the Dietary Reference Intakes, as well as individual health goals and personal preference.”5

  • American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association joint statement - “…there is insufficient data to determine conclusively whether the use of NNS to displace caloric sweeteners in beverages and foods reduces added sugars or carbohydrate intakes, or benefits appetite, energy balance, body weight or cardiometabolic risk factors.”6

  • Health and Medicine Division (formally known as the Institute of Medicine) - “…does not support artificial sweetener use in children because artificially sweetened beverages have been shown to displace milk and 100% juice at mealtimes.” In addition, the IOM stated that more research is needed on the effectiveness of artificial sweeteners for weight management and the more studies are needed on safety effects when artificial sweeteners are consumed over many years starting in childhood or adolescence.”7

  • American Academy of Pediatrics - “Due to limited studies in children, the AAP has no official recommendations regarding the use of noncaloric sweeteners.”8

Please see Table A for a summary of brand names, sweetness intensity levels, acceptable daily intakes and The Center of Science in the Public Interest stance.

Healthy Beverage Consensus Statement:

Click to learn more about the recommendations of other beverages (i.e. juice, flavored milk, low calorie sweeteners, etc.): 


Healthy Drinks Healthy Kids:



  1. 1 https://changelabsolutions.org/sites/default/files/SSB_Playbook_FINAL-20131004.pdf
  2. American Heart Association. (2019). Added Sugar Is Not So Sweet - Infographic. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/added-sugar-is-not-so-sweet-infographic
  3. Daniels, S. R., Bechard, L. J., Steiber, A., Krol, D., & Muth, N. (2019, September). Healthy Drinks Healthy Kids. Retrieved from https://healthydrinkshealthykids.org/app/uploads/2019/09/HER-HealthyBeverage-ConsensusStatement.pdf
  4. https://www.fastfoodmarketing.org/default.aspx 
  5. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Use of Nutritive and Nonnutritive Sweeteners. 2012; 112:739-758. 2.U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Additional Information about High Intensity Sweeteners Permitted for use in Food in the United States. http://www.fda.gov/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/foodadditivesingredients/ucm397716.htm, web access April 21, 2016.
  6. American Heart Association/American Diabetes Association Scientific Statement. Nonnutritive Sweeteners: Current Use and Health Perspectives. Journal of the American Heart Association. Circulation 2012;126:509-519.
  7. Sylvetsky, Allison; Rother, Kristina I.; and Brown, Rebecca. Artificial Sweetener Use Among Children: Epidemiology, Recommendations, Metabolic Outcomes, and Future Directions. National Institute of Health Public Access. Published in final edition form as: Pediatric Clinic North America 2011 December; 58(6): 1467-1480.
  8. American Academy of Pediatrics. Healthychildren.org. Can I Give my Children Foods Sweetened with no- and Low-calories Sweeteners? https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/Sweeteners-and-Sugar-Substitutes.aspx. Copyright 2016. Last Updated November 21, 2015. Web access March 22, 2016.