Scads of weight-conscious Americans practically live on diet soda, and dancers are no exception. For many, it's a (supposedly) guilt-free way to enjoy a sweet treat.

 

Now, that habit is beginning at a younger age. A recent study shows that the number of U.S. children drinking sugar-free beverages has doubled in the past decade. While less sugar consumption is something many people hail as progress, the verdict is still out on how popular artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin and sucralose affect the body in the long-term. And if children are following the example set by many adults, they are not approaching diet drinks with the once-in-awhile, special-occasion attitude normally applied to sweets. The zero-calorie label seems to function like a free pass, as many allegedly health-conscious people guzzle diet drinks like they're water.

 

If older dancers in your studio are constantly sipping Diet Cokes, the young students can't be far behind. How do you encourage your teens to set good examples?