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Sweet Drinks: What’s Best for Kids?

One Study Looks at Consumption Trends; Another Study Touts Benefits of 100% Fruit Juice
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 3, 2008 -- Numerous studies have linked sweetened drinks to children's weight problems. We know that fruit juice, sodas, and other sugar-sweetened beverages pack a caloric punch. But how much is too much, and what role should these drinks play in a child's diet?

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.

(Do your kids love fruit juice? Take our poll on WebMD's Parenting: Preschoolers and Grade Schoolers board.)

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.

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