A ten year study from Penn State found that young girls who drink soda tend to have have less healthy diets in adolescence than those who did not drink soda.
The study showed that girls who drank soda at age five had diets that were less likely to meet nutritional standards for the duration of the study, which ended at age 15. While girls who did not drink soda at age five did not meet certain nutritional requirements, but their diets were healthier.
The difference between the two groups in nutrient intake is “not just because of what they are consuming, but because of what they are not consuming,” said Laura Fiorito, postdoctoral fellow in Penn State’s Center for Child Obesity Research.
Milk intake differed greatly between the two groups — soda drinkers drank far less milk than non-soda drinkers — and milk has all of the nutrients that differed between the groups except fiber. At age five, non-soda drinkers consumed 10 to 11 ounces of milk daily, while soda drinkers had less than seven ounces.
“Adequate nutrient intake is important for optimal health and growth,” the researchers reported in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. For example, low calcium intake is associated with increased risk of bone fractures and higher added sugar is associated with dental problems and the development of several chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.
Although soda drinkers had less healthy diets, both groups failed to meet recommendations for certain nutrients. The Institute recommends that girls age 14 to 18 receive at least 1,300 milligrams of calcium daily. At age 15, soda drinkers in the study averaged 767 milligrams a day, while non-soda drinkers had slightly higher intakes at 851 milligrams a day, but were still deficient.
The researchers also found that both groups increased their soda consumption by age 15. However, soda drinkers were consuming nearly twice as much soda at age 15 than their counterparts — 6.6 ounces a day versus 3.4 ounces a day.
“We think that the patterns develop when they are younger. Some studies show that children already drinking soda or carbonated beverages at age two,” said Fiorito.
Parents of soda drinkers in the study had higher body mass indexes than non-soda drinkers’ parents. Fiorito believes this suggests that “parents model consumption patterns for their children,” and that the parents’ unhealthy eating habits not only contributed to an increased BMI, but influenced children.