HEALTH

Utah kids drinking more sugar than the national average

Mar 16, 2023, 3:00 PM

Utah sure does love its soda shops and sugar-added drinks, and recent data shows that more kids are...

File: Three-year-old Samantha Krass (L) and her brother, 18-month-old Devin, enjoy their slurpees at a 7-Eleven store (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah sure does love its soda shops and sugar-added drinks, and recent data shows that more kids are picking up the sugar habit. 

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that, on average, 57% of children up to five years old are drinking sugary beverages at least once a week. 

The Beehive state is just above the national average with 66% of kids consuming sugar-added drinks once a week. 

Salt Lake City School District Dietician Brianna Hardisty believes these sugary habits are picked up from parents and family members. 

“You have parents going to soda shops and you know a lot of kids’ eating habits are what’s going on at home,” Hardisty said.  “So if you have parents that are stopping at Swig every day for their diet Coke, that’s going to carry over.” 

Hardisty said that her school district regulates what is sold in vending machines, requiring only diet or zero-sugar drinks in the machines.  

But that doesn’t stop children from bringing drinks from home. 

“I was serving lunch at a school and a child came through and picked up hot lunch, but then also had like a 20-ounce soda,” Hardisty said. “So, I think if anything it’s usually coming from home, not what’s being served at schools.

But Utah kids aren’t eating enough of these

The same study found that Utah children are not eating their recommended daily dose of fruits and vegetables. More than half, 52% of children aren’t eating enough vegetables, and  28% of children are not eating the recommended daily allowance of fruit. 

Hardisty recommends making healthy diet choices in front of your children. 

Modeling healthy choices can trickle down into a child’s decision-making process. Another way to encourage healthy eating habits is to involve children in the grocery shopping and cooking process. 

“When you’re talking to kids, talk about adding things to your diet rather than subtracting. Not saying ‘you shouldn’t eat that,’ but saying ‘let’s add more fruits and vegetables into our diet,'” Hales said. “Focus on adding, not necessarily subtracting.”

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Utah kids drinking more sugar than the national average