Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sweet Drinks: What's Best for Kids?

Two new studies analyzed dietary intake information from nationally represented surveys about children's drinking habits. One study shows that children and adolescents are drinking more juice and sugary drinks. The other study shows that children who drink 100% fruit juice are not more likely to be overweight than those who do not drink 100% fruit juice.

More Calories Coming From Sweet Drinks

The first study, published in the June edition of Pediatrics, looks at trends -- what children drink, how much, and how it's changing. Data came from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) collected from 1988 to 1994 and from 1999 to 2004.
The study shows that the number of calories children and adolescents (aged 2 to 19) get from sugar-sweetened drinks and 100% fruit juices is on the rise:
Children and adolescents get 10% to 15% of total calories from sugar-sweetened beverages and 100% fruit juice.

Children aged 6 to 11 saw a 20% increase in caloric intake from sugar-sweetened drinks.
Soda contributed 67% of all sugar-sweetened drink calories among adolescents.
During that same time periods, sports drink consumption tripled among adolescents.

Home Is Where the Soda Is

The study also shows that many of these drinks are drunk in the home:
On a typical weekday, 55% to 70% of sugar-sweetened drinks were guzzled at home.
7% to 15% of sugar-sweetened drinks were sipped at schools.

Juice Not Linked to Extra Weight

In the second study, published in the June issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, researcher Theresa Nicklas, DrPH, of Baylor College of Medicine, and colleagues compared 100% fruit juice drinkers to those who did not drink 100% fruit juice, using data from NHANES of children aged 2 to 11 from 1999 to 2002.

Here's what they found:

100% fruit juice drinkers who drank more than 6 ounces had higher levels of carbohydrates, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, magnesium, and iron than those who did not drink 100% fruit juice.

Those who drank more than 6 ounces of 100% fruit juice also ate more whole fruit and less fat and added sugar than those who didn't drink 100% juice. There was no reduction of dairy, vegetables, meat, and whole grain intake in children who drank 100% fruit juice compared with those who didn't.

Those who didn't drink 100% fruit juice drank more sodas and sugar-added fruit drinks.

Drinking 100% fruit juice was not linked to being overweight or obese in children aged 2 to 11.

Tips for Keeping in Balance

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises that children and adolescents limit 100% fruit juice to 4 to 6 ounces of fruit juice a day for children aged 1 to 6 and 8 to 12 ounces of fruit juice a day for children aged 7 to 18.

Emphasize whole fruits instead. You get the juice plus the nutrients in the flesh of the fruit.

Don't encourage young children to drink a big glass of juice at the front end of the meal. That can cause them to fill up and not have room for a nutritionally balanced meal.

Check the label. If it's 100% fruit juice, the federal government requires it say so on the label.

Excerpted from an article in Web MD.

My Comments:

These studies provide useful information. However, other information that we need to be aware of is that sugar can suppress a person's immune system and impair their defenses against infectious disease. You can find 75 other ways sugar can ruin your health here.