Pediatricians and the American Heart Association call for regulations to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks by kids. Dr. John Maa with the American Heart Association said the primary goal is to raise awareness about the amount of extra sugars in beverages.

“They realize that for children, the biggest source of added sugar is often not what they eat.  It’s what they drink.  As a general surgeon, I’m very concerned that sugary drinks pose real and preventable risks to children’s health,” said Maa.

Data shows that for children and teens, 17% of their calories come from added sugars. Nearly half of those are coming from drinks alone, with children consuming an average of 30 gallons of sugary drinks annually. Maa said for the first time, the American Academy of Pediatricians is calling for a tax on sugary drinks, among other measures.

“The use of excise taxes, reducing the marketing, modifying the incentives in nutrition assistance programs, improving nutrition labeling, making healthy drinks like water and milk the default for children in restaurant meals,” said Maa.

40% of Americans are overweight or obese, while a third is dealing with diabetes or pre-diabetes. Louisiana is often considered one of the worst offenders for health issues in the nation. Maa said parents are on the frontline in combatting the excessive sugar intake.

“They can reduce their own sugary drink intake, they can encourage older siblings to reduce their intake to be a better role model for younger children, and they can raise awareness and offer water and milk as primary beverages,” said Maa.