Kids, Soda and Healthy Weight

News Flash! Cutting back on sweetened drinks is considered to be one of the most promising ways to prevent childhood obesity. Several studies show that the amount of soda kids drink is the strongest predictor of their weight. The more they drink, the heavier they are.

Sweetened beverages (SB) include carbonated soft drinks and non-carbonated juice drinks, powdered drinks, sweetened tea, sports drinks and energy drinks. SB 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 SB consumed on average 330/calories a day more than those who didnít 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 SB, they drink fewer nutritious beverages like milk, 100% juice and water. Other health problems associated with high SB intake include more cavities, enamel erosion, osteoporosis, kidney stones and nutrient deficiencies.

One of the best things parents can do is set some limits on sweetened beverages for their kids. Limiting them to once a day or once a week is a great gift to children. It may be hard at first but if you cut back gradually, theyíll get used to it.

Tips for cutting back on sweetened beverages:
ē Donít buy them or buy fewer of them.
ē Donít keep a lot of sodas in the refrigerator.
ē At restaurants, have water first. If you do have a soft drink, donít get a refill.