Closing the lid on sugary drinks

By Erika Mahoney

March 14, 2014 Updated Mar 16, 2014 at 8:59 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Drinking a can of soda everyday equals eating 35 pounds of sugar in a year. Drinking a 20 fl oz of soda is like eating 19 teaspoons of sugar.

Studies show sugary drinks are a big contributor to obesity. According to the Broome County Health Department, nearly 64 percent of adults are overweight or obese and 32 percent of children are overweight or obese.

The Broome County Health Department says it's time to close the lid on sugary drinks.

They are working to decrease such drinks in the local community by swapping them out for water and milk in schools and vending machines.

The Broome County Cooperative Extension wholeheartedly supports this move and will do so by implementing a sugary drink policy. The policy will provide guidelines for drink options at their programs and in their vending machines.

Local 4-H groups will also adopt the policy.

While nutritionists admit it can be hard to cut out sugary drinks, they say it is possible.

"As you're trying to move away from some of these things, it's steps at a time, it's steps in the right direction," Rachel Parsons, a nutrition educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension. "You don't have to do a complete 180. Maybe as you're trying to move away from these things, it's having one less soda a day, and build on that success."

Parsons says one helpful tool in guiding choices is their stop light metaphor. Sodas and sweet teas should get a red light, juices should get a yellow light, and water and milk should get the green light.

If you have a choice between fruit and juice, the fruit is the better option because of its fiber.

And while diet sodas have zero calories, the artificial sweeteners actually make the consumer crave more sugar.

Overall, the best option is water and unsweetened milk.