Last year, for the first time, sales of soda actually declined since their invention. However, there are plenty of other pitfall drinks on store shelves which can add unwanted calories to a child’s diet.
“I think the major concern that I have with soft drinks is that kids are drinking them instead of milk and juice and the extra calories that don't do anything for their bones, for their skin, for their digestive track...there's no fiber,” says Jane Andrews, a registered dietician for Wegmans, “it (soda) doesn't satisfy their appetite as well as a solid food...so they might be drinking because they're really thirsty and they're getting these extra calories but they're not as satisfied in an hour or two they end up wanting more.”
The quantity of sugar contained within soda is daunting:
1 soda (16oz) =13.3 teaspoons of sugar = 200 calories
2 sodas (32oz) = 26.7 teaspoons of sugar = 400 calories
However, it's not just soda that contains liquid calories. Sports drinks, flavored milk and even fruit juices can contain high amounts of sugar. Sugary drinks are also processed in the body differently than whole foods. The liquid can cause the blood sugar to increase however, the levels eventually decrease, leaving some children more hungry. The
“Having a piece of fruit in the afternoon gives you about the same amount of sugar as a glass of pop but wow, you get it with fiber, it's going to stay with you a little bit longer it's going to have all of that Vitamin C and potassium and all of that good stuff.”
So what are the safe options? Andrews recommends milk and water. The variety of milk (whole, low-fat, non-fat) should depend upon the age of the child; consult your pediatrician for more detail. As far as water, Andrews also warns parents to watch out for “flavored waters” because while most are healthy choices, some can contain sugars.
“Because something might say water and contains sugar, it might contain some other additives that you don't feel good about giving your kids.”