Unit 3 Information for Leaders

To view the individual activities for this unit, click on them in the highlighted orange box to the left

A PDF version of this unit is available here.

Behavior Goal

Children will drink fewer sweetened beverages and eat fewer sweets

Key Messages for Kids

  • Sweetened drinks like soda, fruit drinks, and sports drinks are loaded with sugar.
  • Eating and drinking too much sugar is not healthy for your body and it can cause cavities.
  • Water and low fat milk are the best drinks to have at snacks and meals.
  • Juice is not as healthy as it seems. It can have as much sugar as soda.

Key Information for Program Staff

Children often replace healthy drinks like milk or water with sugary drinks like punch, soda, and fruit drinks. Drinking too many sugar-sweetened drinks, as well as eating sugary foods like candy and cookies, can lead to dental cavities and may increase the risk for overweight, diabetes and heart disease. In fact, some children are developing type 2 diabetes because of poor diets and overweight.

In this unit, children will learn how to read the sugar content in different drinks and identify drinks with lots of sugar. You can help children (especially older ones) investigate other drinks, snacks and treats by looking at the amount of sugar listed on the food label, then converting that number into teaspoons. To calculate grams of sugar to teaspoons, divide the grams of sugar by 4 (there is 1 teaspoon of sugar for every 4 grams of sugar listed).

Teach children and their parents the many different forms sugar can take. High fructose corn syrup, dextrose, sucrose, honey, cane juice, molasses, and malt syrup all mean one thing: SUGAR! Help children develop healthy habits by serving water instead of sugary drinks at every snack. Drinks with artificial sweeteners are not a healthy alternative, because the long term safety of artificial sweeteners is unknown.

Provide naturally sweet or low-sugar snack foods like dried fruit, yogurt and fruit (try plain or vanilla yogurt mixed with fruit), granola, or low to moderate sugar cereals (under 10 grams of sugar per serving). Also, snacks do not need to be sweet! Try serving savory snacks like popcorn, trail mix or whole grain crackers with no trans fat in them.

  • Refer to the Sugar Sweetened Beverage Tip Sheet PDF for ideas on how to eliminate sugar-sweetened drinks at your afterschool program.
  • The browser version of this tip sheet is located here
  • The fast map for this unit is available here
  • The browser version of this quick guide is available here