Guest blogger JJ Virgin: Cut. It. Out! There is nothing beneficial about sugar -- not for you, not for your children. A recent study by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that 40 percent of children's caloric consumption comes from empty calories in the form of solid fat and added sugars. Over 23 million children and adolescents in the United States are overweight or obese, causing their risks for chronic diseases to skyrocket.
Let's face it: That number is daunting and scary. It's no wonder that the epidemic of obesity
among kids is viewed as one of the most imminent public health concerns today.
The top sources of energy for 2- to 18-year-olds? Grain desserts
, pizza and soda. Sugary beverages (including soda and fruit drinks) supplied nearly 10 percent of the total calories consumed. Half of the empty calories ingested came from only six foods
: dairy desserts
, grain desserts
, pizza, whole milk, soda and fruit drinks.
Researchers' findings were based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a nationally representative survey with a complex multistage, stratified probability sample. Calculating solid fats and added sugars using the USDA MyPyramid Equivalents Database, researchers found that children's energy sources also depended on age. Children 2 to 3 years old extracted the most energy from whole milk, reduced-fat milk, pasta and fruit juice; 4- to 8-year-olds' top sources were pasta and reduced-fat milk. Results also varied by race/ethnicity. Major contributors for Hispanic-American children included traditional mixed dishes and whole milk, while non-Hispanic blacks and whites gleaned more energy from sugar-sweetened beverages than from milk.
In an accompanying commentary, Dr. Rae-Ellen W. Kavey, a pediatric cardiologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center
, mentioned that sugar is especially damaging as its' health consequences include accelerated atherosclerosis and early cardiovascular disease.
Sugar just isn't worth it -- especially when it jeopardizes our children's vibrant futures.
Nutrition and fitness expert JJ Virgin is a keynote speaker, spokesperson, author of "Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy" and costar of TLC's "Freaky Eaters" reality series. Visit her at jjvirgin.com to grab her free audio, "Top 10 Tips to Get Slim and Sexy Fast."