water splash in glass isolated on whiteThe average American consumes over 130 pounds of sugar every year. That’s more than twice the amount recommended by the World Health Organization. Over half the sugar we consume is in the form of sodas, sweet tea, and other sugary drinks.

“It’s really become an epidemic,” says NP Kim French from the Health Center at River View. “It’s easy to get hooked on these tasty drinks. They have a lot of sugar and calories, which often lead to weight gain and contribute to health problems such as heart disease and diabetes. And, we all know how bad sugar is for dental health.”

daily drinks mchartWhile reducing sugary drinks is a great way to improve your health, substituting diet drinks may not be the best answer, says River View Nurse Kelli Dalton. “Artificial sweeteners can also become a habit, and the jury is still out on the long-term effect of the chemicals in these drinks on our health. What we do know is that artificial sweeteners are about 180 times sweeter than regular sugar, but because they don’t truly satisfy your body’s sugar craving, they actually lead to greater sweet cravings. I’d much rather see people reduce their sugary drinks by substituting water. Some people may find it easier to gradually wean themselves off the sugar by substituting some of the new, lightly-flavored waters on the market — Propel and La Croix are two popular alternatives. And water with a slice of lemon or lime can be a nice alternative, too.”

This summer, rethink your drink — choose water more often.