What will you do if you’re asked to bring sugary drinks to a class party already overloaded with cake, cookies and candy? This is another sticky situation I’ve encountered and had to decide between sticking up for kids’ health or just going with the flow. Knowing the research about how sugary drinks are connected to rising rates of diseases like type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease in kids, I chose to make the case for serving fruit and water instead.
Did you know sweet drinks are tied to higher calorie intake in kids and research shows kids will eat more vegetables if they drink water instead of soda? Even something as simple as making sure there is fruit at a class party helps to reduce the sugary overload as described in this research about kids and parties:
At the two parties where fruit wasn’t available, the kids each ate an average of 344 to 455 calories.
“It surprised me enormously,” says study researcher Kathy K. Isoldi, PhD, a registered dietitian and an assistant professor of nutrition at Long Island University in Brookville, N.Y. “That’s even a lot of calories for me. And this is just essentially one snack.”
But when fruit was also an option, the counts dropped somewhat, to 259 to 405 calories.
Serving fruit and water at school parties is a great way to help kids learn to love foods that love them back. Kids already get so many sugary treats outside of school and don’t need a double dose in the classroom too.
Here is a sample script you can use if faced with the sticky situation of sugar overload at the class party:
I appreciate that sugary drinks are not sold to students during the day and feel uncomfortable with bringing it into the school for events. Part of volunteering is to feel good about how we are helping children but the sugary drinks take away from that when they are so strongly linked to poor health. I would be happy to help by serving water instead. It is one of the simplest and most effective ways we can support the health of our students.
Here are some additional resources that can help you make the case for healthier school celebrations:
Infographic: Sugar Limits for Kids
5 Secrets to Throwing a Healthy Class Party by School Bites
Healthy School Celebrations by Center for Science in the Public Interest
What are your suggestions and resources for handling this kind of sticky situation?