Oct 16, 2013 Posts By: Lindsey Mazanec

The Bitter Truth of Sugary Drinks
Reducing or eliminating sugary drinks is one of the easiest changes a family can make to reduce calorie intake and positively impact a child's weight.

One in every three children in America is either overweight or obese. Reducing or eliminating sugary beverages is one of the easiest changes a family can make to reduce calorie intake and positively impact a child’s weight.

Recently, McDonald's announced they will no longer advertise sugary beverages with kids’ Happy Meals. This does not mean that they will no longer offer sugary beverages; they are just not promoting them. This decision was made in partnership with the Alliance for a Healthy Generation.

It should be pointed out that healthier beverage choices do not refer to just limiting sodas. All beverages that contain sugar  — even 100% juice  — should be evaluated. As a general rule, it's always better for your child to eat fruits and vegetables rather than to drink them. Most sugary beverages will provide between 100-120 calories per 8 ounces and minimal nutritional value.

Examples of Sugary Beverages to Avoid Can Include:

  • Fruit punch or fruit aid    
  • Juice that’s not 100% juice    
  • Energy drinks 
  • Sports drinks
  • Drink mixes
  • Fruit-flavored soda
  • Flavored milk such as chocolate or strawberry
  • Coffee drinks
  • Milkshakes or malts

The best beverage option for your child is regular water, and a second choice would be low- and no-calorie beverages. Aim for drinks that contain 10 calories or fewer per serving, and look for beverages with the least amount of additives and ingredients.

Statistics From the CDC

To reveal the popularity of sugary beverages in America, here are a few statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Approximately one half of the population consumes one or more sugary drink in a given day
  • Teenagers and young adults consume more sugary drinks than other age groups
  • Over the past decade, consumption of sugar sweetened beverages has been increasing, with adolescents consuming between 14-22 ounces  of regular soda per day
  • Sugary drinks are the greatest source of added sugars and extra calories in a child’s diet in the U.S.
  • Sugary drinks have been linked to weight gain, obesity and overall poor diet quality

Artificial Sweeteners

While parents may have concerns about the artificial sweeteners used in many zero calorie drinks, the bigger concern is the amount of sugar in regular soft drinks, juices and other sweet beverages. Excessive sugar consumption, especially from sugar-sweetened beverages, causes excessive weight gain in children which can lead to a number of health issues including diabetes, gastrointestinal issues and sleep apnea.

The long-term effects of artificial sweeteners is not known; however, we know that at the present time there is no conclusive evidence to suggest adverse health effects from the artificial sweeteners used in most calorie-free beverages.

Clinical Nutrition and the COACH Program

Children’s treats hundreds of overweight and obese patients through services such as Clinical Nutrition and the COACH Program.