BLR Editor Elaine Quayle recently interviewed Muchnick about sugar in soft drinks, diet sodas, fruit juices, energy drinks, and caffeine and their impact on health and wellness.
He also addressed the topics of workplace snacks and the “3 p.m. slump” that many employees experience during their workday, and provides tips for addressing it or avoiding it.
Obesity and its relation to beverage consumption has been in the news, with Mayor Bloomberg of New York City banning the sale of large size sugary drinks and many schools banning soda from their vending machines.
Employers, especially those with wellness initiatives, will be interested to hear what Muchnick has to say about the beverages sold in their facilities.
BLR: Are beverages a factor in health problems?
JM: Yes, I think so. While certainly there are a lot of factors that affect health problems, beverages may be one of the most important factors.
In a soda, you get a lot of sugar, but that’s all the nutrition you get. The other thing you get is lots of calories. And you don’t get any vitamins, minerals, or other things that the body needs to run.
Unfortunately, that soda is not going to do much for your health and it’s also not going to satisfy your hunger.
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BLR: Are diet sodas a good alternative?
JM: There’s some controversy on this topic. Whereas we are quite confident in the science that excess sugar from a regular drink can lead to a number of health problems like weight gain, and diabetes, as well as secondary problems like high blood pressure and heart disease, we’re kind of on the fence with diet soda and sugar substitutes like Sweet and Low and saccharine.
Personally, I’ve always been fine with diet sodas and sugar substitutes. Intuitively, however, since they are artificial substances, it’s probably good to limit their use.
I think that to have one or two diet sodas a day, a couple of packets of artificial sweetener during the day is fine. That’s a good tool for reducing the total amount of calories you consume.
BLR: What about juices, juice drinks, flavored waters?
Juice is more akin to a soda than an original fruit. The act of making juice is almost doing the same thing you would do when making a candy bar—you’re taking a natural substance and turning it into a concentrate of sugar.
It’s another way to consume lots of calories without much other nutritional value.
I like to use the term, “Eat your fruit don’t drink it.” With an actual piece of fruit, you’ll get a relatively low amount of sugar, plus all the fiber and nutrients that come along with that fruit.
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BLR: What about tap water? How can we encourage our employees to drink regular water?
JM: The bottled water or tap water is just fine.
Also, again as a moderated strategy,there are Crystal Light and similar products that add flavor to the water. They are artificial sweetener based, so again, don’t consume huge quantities, but they are a way to add flavor without adding any calories.
In tomorrow’s Advisor, more of Muchnick‘s wellness tips, plus an introduction to a the wellness guide that will help your program achieve 300 percent ROI.
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