According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sugary drinks are the leading source of added sugars in the American diet.
In order to combat these added sugars, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Diabetes Prevention Services put together a series of classes on November 13, December 11 and January 8 to help people learn about healthier ways to stay hydrated.
During January’s class, participants learned just how many teaspoons of sugar are in certain drinks and how many minutes of brisk walking it takes to burn off the drink at a speed of 3.5 mph.
“When we’re talking 3.5 mph, we’re talking about a really good walk,” said Community Health Educator Karina Watson of Health and Human Services Diabetes Prevention Services as she briskly walked around the tables, demonstrating the pace needed to burn off the sugar.
For example, a bottle of sweetened tea has about 213 calories and 14 teaspoons of sugar per container size. It would take about 46 minutes to burn off the sugar walking at that pace.
Most beverages that are high in sugars, except 100% fruit juice, provide empty calories and increase your risk of obesity and tooth decay, according to Watson. While fruit juices do contain some vitamins and minerals, it’s better to eat the whole fruit, which is a good source of fiber, rather than drink the juice.
Beverages that Watson said are good options for zero teaspoons of added sugar include water, black coffee, seltzer, sugar-free drink mix, sugar-free lemonade and unsweetened tea.
Because many people don’t like to drink plain water, at the end of the event, Watson handed out infused water bottles and cutting boards for participants to chop up fruits and vegetables to place in their water bottles to add the natural flavors. With infused water, you can soak the ingredients in water and enjoy them right away or let them soak in the water for a couple of hours, or overnight for a more intense flavor.