Memphis YMCAs eliminate sugary drinks from kids’ menu

(WMC Action News 5)
Updated: Apr. 3, 2019 at 4:27 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics are calling for additional taxes on sugary beverages.

This comes after reports show childhood obesity rate has more than tripled since the 1970s.

Now, one Mid-South youth program is eliminating sugary drinks altogether.

The YMCA Lakeland child development center serves kids from six weeks to 5 years old.

"This morning’s breakfast was whole milk with unsweetened oatmeal and a side of crasins,” said Kirsten Gray, Vice President of the YMCA’s youth development.

Gray says all of the Y's facilities across the Mid-South have banned sugary drinks and follow the healthy eating physical activity standards.

“Swap out sugary drinks for whole fruits and vegetables water milk and then focus on all of our ingredients on whole grain and less sugar,” Gray said.

The move is getting praise not only from the American Heart Association but from doctors and dietitians at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

“Thirty-three percent of teens in Tennessee consume three sodas or more a day,” said Nichole Reed, a clinical dietitian at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. “It leads to obesity which can lead to Type 2 diabetes, which can lead to heart disease, which can lead to all these other issues which you shouldn’t be dealing with as a child."

That’s exactly why the YMCA made the changes. Gray also has a 4-year-old son at the Lakeland facility and is already seeing the changes to his picky eating habits.

“I think he can think he’s trying to get away from it, but when he’s here at the Y he cleans his plate because all of his friends are doing it,” Gray said.

The power of positive peer pressure with the focus of healthy eating and drinking at an early age can lead to a lifetime of benefits.

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