Be a Sugar Detective: How Much Is in Your Drink?

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    Sugar: The Extra Ingredient in Soda

    You may be getting way more sugar than you think in your drink. A 20-ounce bottle of cola can have more sugar than three really big brownies!

    Sure, sugar tastes good, but too much can make you feel bad and is bad for your body. Most foods and drinks have some sugar. But sodas and other sweet drinks have extra, just like candy and desserts. So be careful what you choose to sip.

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    If You Want a Soda, Make It a Small

    Don't make soda the only thing you drink. Just have it once in a while, and stick with a small cup. Some drinks are big enough for two people. That means double the sugar. And that's not good for your body. An 8-ounce amount -- the size of the mini cans in the supermarket – is enough.

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    Fruit Punch Is Mostly Sugar

    Watch out for juice drinks like fruit punch and lemonade. They have lots of added sugar. A bottle of fruit punch can have more sugar than four chocolate glazed doughnuts. Plus it may have only 5% or 10% real fruit juice. Other than that, it's mostly water and high-fructose corn syrup -- a sugar your body doesn't need. Instead, make your own fruity drink with sparkling water and chunks of fruit.

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    A Little 100% Juice Is OK

    If you're going to drink juice, 100% fruit juice is the best kind for you because it has vitamins and nutrients that help your body. For example, 100% orange juice has lots of vitamin C. But even though it can be healthy, 100% juice has a lot of natural sugar, too. So don't drink more than 1 cup or 8 ounces a day. 

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    Eat Fruit, Don't Drink It

    You need fruit every day. The best way to get it? A real piece of fruit. Eat 1 1/2 cups of fruit each day. How much is that? Try eating one banana and 1/2 cup of strawberries. Like grapes? Have 50. One big, crunchy apple can also be enough fruit for a day.

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    Smoothies Aren't Always Healthy

    Fruit blended in a cup sounds healthy -- but smoothies aren't always good for you. A store-bought orange sherbet smoothie has almost as much sugar as a milkshake! For less sugar, drink smoothies made from real fruit and plain yogurt or just fruit and ice. Say no to ones made of sherbet and flavored syrups.

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    Sports Drink = Sugar, Not Extra Energy

    You need sport drinks if you're playing sports, right? Probably not. A popular 20-ounce sports drink has about the same amount of sugar as a cupcake with frosting. If you're playing hard for more than an hour, these drinks can help replace what your body loses when you sweat a lot. But for most kids, water and orange slices are all the fuel you need.

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    Juice Boxes Can Be Sugary

    A 6-ounce pouch of one grape juice drink has 4 teaspoons of sugar -- the same as about 13 gummy bears. If you like juice boxes, drink one labeled "100% juice." It's healthier and has vitamins. But 100% juice has sugar too, so don't have more than one box a day.                                                                                     

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    Chocolate, Flavored Milk

    Do you like chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry milk better than plain?  A 14-ounce bottle of chocolate milk has almost as much sugar as two scoops of vanilla ice cream. Ask your school if they have low-fat, low-sugar flavored milk. Or make your own at home that's better for you. Mix 1 teaspoon of chocolate syrup into a glass of milk.

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    Water: It's Good for You

    Your parents might tell you that you need eight glasses of water a day. But depending on how old you are and how active you are, you might need less -- or more. How do you know if you're getting enough water? Look in the toilet after you pee (really!). If it's pale yellow or clear, you're drinking enough water. If it's darker, drink more.

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    High-Caffeine Sodas and Energy Drinks

    Energy drinks and some sodas have caffeine that some people use to stay awake, but they also have sugar, and lots of it! A 20-ounce high-caffeine, citrus-flavored soda has about the same sugar as 11 peanut butter and chocolate chip granola bars! A 16-ounce can of a popular energy drink has almost 13 teaspoons of sugar.

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    What's in My Drink? Read the Label.

    Want to know what's inside your drink?  If it comes in a bottle or can, look at the label. Is one of the first two ingredients sugar, corn syrup, or a long word that ends in "-ose," like fructose? That means it has a lot of sugar. Only have one sugary drink a day. Try working your way down to having only one a week.

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    Those Drinks Add Up

    Drink a soda, juice box, sports drink, and fruity drink in a day and you'd get as much sugar as you would eating about 38 chocolate chip cookies. Whoa! If you drank that every day, you'd have to burn off 62 pounds of fat each year! Drink water, seltzer, or low-fat milk instead.