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Pediatricians are calling for a soda tax—what parents need to know

The AAP is joining the American Heart Association in calling for a tax on soda, as well as other proposed policies for federal, state, and local lawmakers to reduce the amount of sugar America's kids are consuming.

Pediatricians are calling for a soda tax—what parents need to know

The other day I asked my 3-year-old what he wanted for dinner and he had one word for me: "Coke." I laughed pretty hard at that one (and suggested actual food instead) but according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), kids' consumption of calorie-laden sodas isn't funny, it's actually alarming.

The AAP is joining the American Heart Association in calling for a tax on soda, as well as other proposed policies for federal, state, and local lawmakers to reduce the amount of sugar America's kids are consuming.

The AAP's new policy statement, "Public Policies to Reduce Sugary Drink Consumption in Children and Adolescents," recommends taxing soda, limiting the marketing of sugary drinks to children, and making healthier beverages more financially attractive to parents.

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While current guidelines suggest kids get fewer than 10% of their daily calories from added sugars, research shows kids get about 17% of their calories from added sugars, with about half of those coming from soda and other sugary drinks, the AAP notes."On average, children are consuming over 30 gallons of sugary drinks every year. This is enough to fill a bathtub, and it doesn't even include added sugars from food," says Dr. Natalie Muth, the lead author of the new joint policy statement.

"As a pediatrician, I am concerned that these sweetened drinks pose real—and preventable—risks to our children's health, including tooth decay, diabetes, obesity and heart disease. We need broad public policy solutions to reduce children's access to cheap sugary drinks," says Muth.

The tax Muth and her colleagues are recommending is an excise tax, defined as a "tax imposed on product manufacturers or distributors" rather than a sales tax, although excise taxes typically do result in consumers paying more at the cash register.

Sugary drinks are already taxed this way in some parts of the country. Berkeley, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Francisco, Albany and Oakland are taxing these beverages and funneling the revenue into public health, nutrition and other community programs. "Communities have started tackling this problem with creative solutions, showing that we can work together to make healthy options more available and less expensive to buy," says Dr. Muth.

Philadelphia's Beverage Tax was introduced in 2017 and has been the subject of several studies, as Philly.com reporter Laura McCrystal explained earlier this week. "Since the tax on soda and other sweetened beverages took effect to fund pre-K, community schools, and improvements to parks, recreation centers, and libraries, study results have been varied. Those paid for by the beverage industry have concluded that the tax hurts businesses, but research funded by supporters of the tax has suggested that there is no adverse economic effect," McCrystal wrote.

But some of the research done on Philly's beverage tax was focused more on the potential impact it is having on human bodies, rather than the economy. A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that within two months of the tax taking effect, people in Philadelphia were 40% less likely to reach for soda than residents in other cities that don't have the tax.

But parents don't have to wait for more studies in Philly, or for other local governments to decide to tax sugar-filled beverages, to start making a difference now. We can make the changes in our own homes first, by offering water most often and serving milk instead of pop or fruit juice.

It's important to note that the AAP isn't just talking about soda when it references "sweetened beverages." While juices and juice-based drinks often seem more healthy, many have so much sugar that they would be included in a sugary beverage tax. The AAP recommends no fruit juice for babies under a year old, and "no more than 4 ounces of 100% fruit juice a day for children ages 1 through 3 years; 4 to 6 ounces for children ages 4 through 6; and 8 ounces for children ages 7 through 14."

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    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

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    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

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    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

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    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

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    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

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    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

    This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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    This post is brought to you by Staples. While this was a sponsored opportunity, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

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