Infographic: Progress Towards Healthier Beverages for Children

A new infographic from the Center for Science in the Public Interest and Voices for Healthy Kids Action Center tracks restaurant chain commitments to improve their drink offerings on children’s menus.

Thanks to the efforts of members of the Food Marketing Workgroup, six major national chains have removed sugary beverages from their kids’ menus. (These commitments are in addition to Panera and Subway, which never had sugary drinks on the kids’ menu.)

Keep Sugar From Overtaking Your Child’s Diet

US dietary guidelines recommend consuming less than 10% of daily calories from added sugars. On a 1,500-calorie diet, a level appropriate for moderately active 4- to 8-year-olds, just less than 10% would be about 33 grams of added sugars per day.

In August, the American Heart Association issued stricter sugar recommendations designed to keep kids healthy, stating that children should consume less than 6 teaspoons — or 24 grams — of added sugars per day. It also recommended that children and teens should limit their intake of sugar-sweetened drinks to no more than 8 ounces per week.

So what can parents do to keep sugar from overtaking their kids’ diets? Here are a few suggestions.

Don’t deprive your kids of sweets.

Despite the consequences, health professionals agree that parents shouldn’t deprive their child of sweets. The key is to help children find a balance with food, helping them learn how to enjoy healthy foods and enjoy (and self-regulate) treats.

Allow children one sweet treat or dessert per day.
Good choices include animal crackers, vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Keep fruit drinks, soda and sugary beverages out of the house.
There’s no nutritional benefit to drinking sugar-sweetened beverages. For an alternative to soda, dilute 4 ounces unsweetened juice with 4 ounces seltzer water and flavor with lemon, lime or other fresh fruit.

Watch out for sugars in foods that you don’t think of as sweet.
Keep an eye on breads, sauces and condiments by searching ingredient lists for names such as high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, glucose, sucrose or other words ending in “ose,” evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, malt syrup and molasses. Food packages will soon list “added sugars” as a separate line on nutrition labels, so the amount of these sugars will no longer be “hidden.”

Remember, even natural sugar is sugar.
Many people think that “natural” sugars like honey and agave are healthier than ones that are more highly processed, like sucrose or table sugar. But when you look closely, you see that all of these sugars contain fructose and glucose. And while honey may offer some antioxidants, you would probably have to consume a lot of honey calories in order to experience any health benefits.

This doesn’t mean foods containing natural sugars aren’t healthy. But how these natural sugars are packaged matters.

A piece of whole fruit like an apple contains naturally occurring fructose, but it also delivers 4.4 grams of fiber, thanks to the peel and pulp. Apple juice, on the other hand, lacks fiber and is a more concentrated source of sugar and calories.

Soda Sugar Math

From our friends at Florida Hospital Center for Child and Family Wellness:

Do you know how much added sugar you are drinking from your drinks? If you drink one can of soda per day for 1 year you would take in a whopping 3,458 teaspoons of sugar total. That is almost 4 gallons of sugar in a year. Don’t forget about sports drinks, energy drinks, many types of teas and chocolate milk — all of which contain added sugar. Focus more on water and consider flavoring with sliced fruit or go with unsweetened tea or unflavored milk. Either way, it is best to work towards a less sweet state of mind.

New: 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Dietary-GuidelinesThe 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released last week.  The guidelines, which are revised every five years, are based on evolving nutrition science and serve as the government’s official advice on what to eat. One concrete change: Americans are being told to limit sugar to no more than 10 percent of daily calories.

Here’s a comparison of the added sugars that the average American eats with how much they should be eating, according to the most recent guidelines:

sugars-chartKey Recommendations

Consume a healthy eating pattern that accounts for all foods and beverages within an appropriate calorie level.

A healthy eating pattern includes:

  • A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups—dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products
  • Oils

A healthy eating pattern limits:

  • Saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium

Additional recommendations include:

  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars
  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats
  • Consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium
  • Meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
 Click here for additional information on the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Tips for Healthy Holiday Cooking

IFAS Extension LogoThe University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is rich with resources for you to develop your knowledge in agriculture, human and natural resources, and the life sciences.   Extension is a partnership between state, federal, and county governments to provide scientific knowledge and expertise to the public.  You can trust UF/IFAS Extension for non-biased, research based information for your daily living needs.

From Holiday Cooking – UF/IFAS Extension: Solutions for Your Life

Holiday celebrations can include many family members and friends, which often means lots of food. Some traditional recipes call for heavy amounts of sugars and fats, but there are easy ways to substitute for these ingredients so you can stay healthy during the holiday season. Here are some ideas:


  • Use low-fat versions of regular, evaporated, or condensed milk.healthy holidays
  • Replace sour cream with low-fat plain yogurt.
  • Substitute whipped evaporated skim milk for whipped cream.


  • Replace up to half the butter or shortening in a baking recipe with unsweetened applesauce or mashed bananas. This reduces fat and increases fiber and nutrients.
  • Grease pans with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Replace nuts with dried fruits such as raisins or cranberries.


  • Reduce the amount of sugar in a baking recipe by 1/4 to 1/3.
  • Use three tablespoons of cocoa powder and one tablespoon of oil for one ounce of baking chocolate.


  • Use Canadian bacon or lean ham instead of bacon.
  • Use lean ground turkey or low-fat sausage instead of sausage or ground beef.
  • Baste turkeys with broth instead of butter.

If you’re bringing food to a party, try the ideas above, or bring a salad, fruit, or vegetable dish. If you’re worried about having high-calorie foods around your home, remember that you can always take extras (such as desserts) into work to share with co-workers. By substituting healthy options for calorie-rich ingredients and making sure you get regular exercise, you can have a healthy holiday season.

For more helpful holiday tips, visit the UF/IFAS Extension website or visit your local county UF/IFAS Extension location.

Fourth Annual Live.Life.Healthy Health Fair

Create your own organic face maskStudent leaders of Live.Life.Healthy (LLH)—a Winter Park High School (WPHS) initiative designed to help inspire fellow students to live a healthier lifestyle—hosted their fourth annual health fair September 30, including a roving limbo station, a chance to test hand-washing skills and homemade face masks.

The health fair consisted of a variety of booths that touched on all aspects of a healthy lifestyle—including eating healthy foods, getting exercise, dental health, stress reduction, and taking steps to avoid skin cancer.

Students staffing each booth provided information and got students involved in related activities.

For example, at the stress reduction table, students were provided with information on healthy foods, physical activity, and other tips to help reduce their stress levels.  Students also received a free stress reduction ball.

Since hand washing is an important way to avoid illness, the LLH student leaders gave other students the chance to wash their hands and then used a special light and container to show how much dirt remained. Students received tips to help them do a better job next time.Stress reduction

At the Sugar Busters table, students were asked to guess how much sugar could be found in popular candies and then compare to the sugar in vegetables.

Also popular was the natural face mask booth where students learned how to create a homemade face mask with items commonly found in the home.

Other booths foMaking smoothiescused on the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan, a taste test between fat-free and regular ice cream, a juicing booth,  a smoothie bar, a make a better sandwich bar, and the necessity of good dental health.

LLH student leaders also used the occasion to continue to promote the bike share program which enables students to check out bicycles for free.  Additionally, LLH students used mobile technology to poll students about their happiness.  A follow up survey, based on the responses from this survey, will be conducted later in the year to identify common barriers and then brainstorm solutions to happiness.

LLH is a student-created and led initiative, founded and supported with grant funding from the Winter Park Health Foundation, to encourage all students to eat healthier and be more active.

Visit Live.Life.Healthy on Facebook or on Twitter for more information about the health fair and other healthy activities.