Kick the Sugary Drink Habit & Start the School Year With Healthier Choices

Illustration of sugary drink
Long term sugary drinks cause a host of health issues

Take a minute and think about what you drink in a typical day. Unless you are a true water lover, you’re likely getting some extra, unneeded sugar in whatever you’re drinking. For example, did you know one 20-ounce pop has as much sugar as six donuts or 18 cookies?

While naturally occurring sugars are found in foods like fruit and milk, added sugars and syrups are a byproduct of processing, and found in pop, sports drinks and energy drinks. And while added sugar isn’t harmful in small amounts, our bodies don’t need it to function properly.

Heart disease is the number one killer of all Americans, and stroke is also a leading cause of death. As frightening as those statistics, are the risks of getting them are even higher for African-Americans.

The good news is, we can improve our odds of preventing and beating these diseases by making changes to our diets- and sugary beverages are a great place to start. With the Rethink Your Drink MI initiative, the American Heart Association and Delta Dental Foundation are urging families to cut the pop, sports drinks and juice to help reduce sugar intake. Drinking sugary beverages has been linked to heart disease, hypertension and tooth decay.

The American Heart Association and Delta Dental Foundation recommend making the low-sugar habit a family affair, so set a good example! If you’re drinking a pop or sweet tea every day, your children will want to, too. Choose alternatives like low-fat milk, water with fruit slices or sparkling water.


Fruit-infused water is a healthy option to replace juice boxes and pouches in a student’s lunch. Up to two days before, place any fruit or herbs in the bottom of a pitcher, fill the pitcher with water and refrigerate. Sparkling water with a splash of 100 percent fruit juice is also a fizzy, pop-like alternative. With all of these options, you’re bound to find something you and your family will enjoy.

  • Heart Disease: A recent study from the American Heart Association found a correlation between consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and an increased risk of death from heart disease for patients over the age of 45.
  • Hypertension: Sugary drinks have also been linked to hypertension (high blood pressure), which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Not only is hypertension more severe in African Americans, it also develops earlier in life.
  • Tooth Decay: Drinking pop everyday nearly doubles the risk of cavities in children.

For more information on dumping sugary drinks, visit

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