Kids, Soda, and Healthy Weight

Cutting back on sweetened drinks is considered to be one of the most promising ways to prevent childhood obesity.   Several studies have shown that the amount of soda kids drink is the strongest predictor of their Body Mass Index, a measurement that compares weight to height. The more they drink, the heavier they are.

A 3-year study of more than 10,000 9-14 year olds found that tweens who increased their sweetened beverage intake over one year had greater increases in their Body Mass Index than those who did not (Berkey, 2004).

Sweetened beverages include carbonated soft drinks and non-carbonated juice drinks, powdered drinks, sweetened tea, sports drinks and energy drinks. Sweetened Beverages are the leading source of calories in the American diet and the leading source of sugar for youth. A study of 4th-5th graders showed that students with the highest intake of sweetened beverages consumed on average 330/calories a day more than those who didn’t drink these drinks.

Why are kids drinking so much of the sweet stuff? Lots of reasons: an explosion of new products, more advertising aimed toward youth, larger serving sizes, lower prices, increased fast food purchases with soft drinks as the main beverage, self serve drink stations, free refills and fewer parental limits. As tweens drink more sweetened beverages, they drink fewer nutritious beverages like milk, 100% juice and water. Other health problems associated with high sweetened beverages intake include more cavities, enamel erosion, osteoporosis, kidney stones and nutrient deficiencies.

We need to start thinking of the sugar in sweetened drinks as wasted calories that provide no nutritional benefits. If your kids are drinking a lot of these drinks, it’s not too late to make a change. Help them gradually cut back and learn to make water the drink of choice.

Link to How to help your kids cut back on sweetened drinks.