Just before 2010 ended, The USDA released its 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a document that is updated every 5 years to reflect the evolving understanding of nutrition science. (And agriculture business concerns. But we won’t discuss that today.)
The document is a wonderful source of information, including the stats that led up to the 2010 decisions. Here, for example, is the list of the top sources of calories for kids age 2-18:
- Grain-based desserts (138 kcal) – Cakes, muffins, pies, pop tarts, etc…
- Pizza (136 kcal)
- Soda/energy/sports drinks (118 kcal)
- Yeast breads (114 kcal)
- Chicken and chicken mixed dishes
- Pasta and pasta dishes (91 kcal)
- Reduced fat milk (86 kcal)
- Dairy desserts (76 kcal)
- Potato/corn/other chips (70 kcal)
- Ready-to-eat cereals (65 kcal)
When looking at the general population, the table is slightly different, with soda moving to 4th place.
Why are we bothering to mention data from 3 years ago?
Because it is irritating to see how beverage companies distort the truth in order to advance their business. In a recent infographic published by the Coca Cola company, the top sources of calories in the American diet are disclosed. But only the top 3.
Conveniently leaving soda out. Unfortunately that’s not the case for kids, and we want to make sure everyone knows it.
While some of the foods mentioned in the list are not a symbol of health and nutrition, they do provide some amount of nutrients to a growing body. Soda is the only one on the list that provides ZERO nutritional benefits. And it’s the third highest source of calories for our kids!!! This is ridiculous.
Parents: One the best and easy steps you can take for your child’s nutrition, is to stop buying sweetened drinks. Switch the family over to water and acclimate everyone’s taste buds to pure H2O. You’ll be saving a lot of money too.
(h/t to Marion Nestle)