Study suggest these drinks are linked to the childhood obesity epidemic. Sodas and Sports drinks lead the way.
Kids love sugar, and beverage companies market extensively to children. Something like cigarettes,kids are being srt up for a lifetime addiction to sugar and all the associated health problems.
A recent study from researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health finds that sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) are an increasingly large part of children and teens’ diets. Teens who consume SSBs, which include sodas, fruit drinks and punches, and sports drinks, drink an average of 356 calories per day, a significant increase from 10 years earlier. The findings suggest that reducing empty caloric intake by limiting these drinks may be a key strategy for promoting healthy eating and preventing excess weight gain.
An adolescent male who consumes the average amount of SSBs per day (356 calories) would need to jog for an hour or walk for more than three hours to burn off these excess calories. Of course, millions of teens drink more than the average every day.
The study is published in the journal Pediatrics.
For the study, researchers compared data from two time periods, 1988-1994 and 1999-2004, the study showed that heavy consumption of sugary drinks is widespread amongst children. About 84 percent of teens drink SSBs on a typical day.
The study also showed that the number of SSB calories consumed by children ages two to five and six to 11 increased from the previous decade. In particular, the study shows that children ages six to 11 consumed 20 percent more calories from sugar-sweetened drinks in 1999-2004 compared with the 1988 to 1994 period. The study also noted a more rapid increase in SSB calorie consumption among Black and Mexican American youth.
“These findings highlight an alarming trend in sugary beverage consumption and should be a major concern for parents and policy-makers worried about the childhood obesity epidemic,” says Y. Claire Wang, MD lead author of the study. “Mounting evidence suggests that the excessive consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages not only contributes to obesity but also promotes energy imbalance, further supporting the potential benefit of limiting these drinks.”
Not surprisingly, the most common sugar-sweetened beverage was soda (55 percent of sugar-sweetened beverage calories), followed by a wide variety of fruit punches and fruit drinks. Together these accounted for 92 percent of sugar-sweetened beverages consumed by children and youth. The fastest growing category was sports drinks, increasing threefold among adolescents during the study period.
“Parents can be easily misled by the labels on fruit punch and sports drink bottles because they make these sugar-sweetened beverages seem essential for good health, when in fact they are nothing more than different forms of sugar water,” notes Steven Gortmaker, PhD, co-author on the study.
Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health