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The research, which was recently published in JAMA Pediatrics, analysed data collected between 2011 and 2016 from 8,400 children between the ages of 2 to 19.

The data was part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which is carried out every year by the CDC.

As part of this survey, parents were asked to record what their children had consumed in the past 24 hours, and the total calories were added up.

Sugary drinks double the number of calories consumed

The data showed that one in every five children and young adults had not drank any water in the 24 hours before the survey. The study found that the children who did not drink water on a given day “consumed nearly twice the calories from [sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs)] as those with water intake, exceeding the recommended 10% of total calories from added sugar.”

The American Heart Association recommends that the diets of children over the age of 2 should have a limit of 25 grams of added sugar per day. It also suggests that children shouldn’t drink more than one 8-ounce sugary drink per week.

However, these guidelines do not inform many people’s daily diet. One 2017 study showed that approximately two-thirds of US children drank at least one sugary drink a day, with around 30 per cent of children drinking two or more sugary drinks a day.

‘All it takes is an extra 70 calories per day to gain weight’

The aim of the study was not to determine how much water would stop children from drinking sugary drinks, but instead to determine whether water intake had any effect on children’s consumption of sugary drinks.

The research was not able to find a definite cause and effect between water intake and lower calorie intake, with only an association being found. Additionally, the study states “NHANES does not collect data on the perception of water safety or trust, which may affect the propensity to drink SSBs and plain water,” and the study only assessed water intake from tap and bottled sources.

The study did show a significant difference in water intake between children of different races/ethnicities and age ranges, but “not sex or income”. For instance, non-Hispanic white children took in an extra 122.5 kcal from sugary drinks if they did not drink any water, but Hispanic children only consumed an extra 60.7 kcal from sugary drinks.

Dr Nathalie Muth, a practicing pediatrician and registered dietician in Carlsbad, California, spoke on the attraction of sugary drinks over water.

She said, “Sugary drinks are a mainstay in many children’s diets. They are inexpensive, easy to find, heavily marketed and taste sweet, so children like them.”

“Kids who drink water may have parents who limit sugary drinks and otherwise promote healthy eating, or kids who don’t drink water may not have access to safe water,” Muth added.

She stated, “I talk with my patients and their families all the time about the health harms of sugary drinks and the advantage of drinking primarily water and milk.”

She added, “Kids who don’t drink water are more likely to get their fluids elsewhere. All it takes is an extra 70 calories or so per day for a child to gain excess weight and be at risk for overweight or obesity.”

Muth also suggested that parents could offer water as the first choice for drinks from 6 months of age, as well as setting examples by drinking water themselves, and even making drinking water more attractive by infusing it with fruit, mint, or lime or lemon.

Source: News Medical Net

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