Back-to-School Driving Safety & Teen Health

Jay Stillman

3 min read

By JCS (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Sugar In Ketchup [Public Domain Photo/JSC]
Stillman and Friedland are proud to bring Tennesseans the latest health information; we want to help you make the best decisions to keep your family safe and well. We covered back-to-school and teen driving safety in a previous post — the key point is to cut out distracted driving. Stress to your teens that they can drive or text, but never both at the same time. Lay down the law regarding the number of passengers they can take, no more than two and preferably only one. The more passengers there are in the car, the higher the teen accident rate.

In this post, we also want to highlight how keeping teens healthy may help them be better drivers. Everyone knows that we do best when we are feeling well. This applies to school, work, and especially driving. An alert driver is a good driver. But did you know that diabetes can leave patients feeling tired and less alert and even cause blurred vision? Or that improper use of diabetes medication can cause a sugar crash and even cause a blackout?

Tennessee has the second-highest high school age obesity rate in the nation and high overall obesity and diabetes rates. We suggest that if you have an overweight teen, diabetic screening may be a good idea, especially if you have family members with diabetes. According to information released just last month, many teens are undiagnosed for diabetes or pre-diabetes.

The key to type 2 diabetes prevention and management is reducing sugars and carbohydrates in the diet. A key resource for those looking to manage or eliminate type 2 diabetes with a healthy diet is linked here.

How can you keep sugar down to a minimum? This week the American Heart Association released a recommendation that kids get no more than six teaspoons of sugar per day. However, when you read packaging information, the amount of sugar is expressed in grams, making it confusing to figure out how much sugar is really in there. So here is some simple help:

• 1 tsp of sugar = 4 grams
• On average, a ½ cup scoop of ice cream has 21 grams of sugar, or 5 ¼ teaspoons of sugar
• One 12 oz. can of cola has nearly 40 grams or 10 teaspoons of sugar
• A 2 tablespoon serving of ketchup has 8 grams or 2 teaspoons of sugar

You may suspect correctly that ice cream flavors with added cookies or candy have crazy amounts of sugar way off the charts. But, as you can see in the last example above, added sugar in non-dessert items can pile up quickly, even before you get to dessert! Here is another great source for checking the sugar content of common foods.

It is not always easy to stay on top of teens’ food choices, but if you take these common items off your own table, you will know that they are eating well at home, and in better shape for safe driving.

* Handy stacked sugar-cube reference: