December 14, 2001
Meal Planning, Food and Diet
Question from Lake Grove, New York, USA:
My son is almost seven, and there is diabetes is on his maternal side so I refuse to let him have sugar snacks or drinks like Gatorade, power drinks, and soda. I believe water is best for hydration, but I’ve been told he needs electrolyte balance. Please advise.
Since you have a family history of diabetes, it is wise to keep an eye on your son’s health. More youngsters are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes as a result of poor eating habits (especially high fat and high carbohydrate consumption) and/or lack of regular exercise. Drinking an excess of sugar beverages will not cause diabetes by itself, but the extra weight gain as a result of empty calories could tend to push your son towards diabetes. Water is the best for hydration purposes and electrolytes can be obtained in other foods other than sports drinks (namely, fruits, vegetables, etc).
[Editor’s comment: A healthy way of eating is the Food Guide Pyramid. You will note that some sweets are allowed, but in controlled portions. For psychologic and social reasons, I don’t think it is wise to completely eliminate these items from a child’s meal plan. Forbidding them can lead to deception and often a greater intake of the “no-nos”. You need to be realistic but prudent in your approach to this.