Feb. 24, 2006 - By the time the average American girl reaches her 19th birthday, she'll be drinking three times more soda and 25% less milk than she did as a child, according to a new study.
Researchers followed more than 2,300 girls aged 9 for 10 years. The researchers found that soda is the most popular beverage drunk by teenage girls and may be replacing more nutritious drinks; it also may be contributing to the growing childhood obesity problem.
The study also showed that milk intake was directly related to calcium intake. Girls who drank more soda and less milk as they got older had less calcium in their diets at a time critical for bone development.
"Because milk provides an important source of calcium in the diets of children and adolescents, the decline in girls' milk consumption at a time when bone mineral deposition may predispose to eventual osteoporosis is a major concern," says William Dietz, MD, PhD, in an editorial that accompanies the study in The Journal of Pediatrics. Dietz is director of the division of nutrition and physical activity at the CDC.
Soda Replacing Milk
In the study, researchers tracked changes in how much milk, diet and regular soda, fruit juice, fruit-flavored drinks, and coffee or tea was drunk by 1,210 black girls and 1,161 white girls. The participants kept three-day food diaries about once a year for 10 years.
The results showed that milk consumption among both groups of girls decreased by 25% during the study period while soda consumption tripled.
Researchers say white girls' milk consumption remained steady until age 11 and then began to decline. The decline in milk consumption began earlier for black girls and continued at a greater rate.
The study also showed that black girls also drank more fruit drinks than white girls, while white girls drank more coffee and tea.
Researchers also found that girls who drank the most soda tended to be heavier than those who drank the least, which raises concerns about soda's role in the current childhood obesity epidemic.
They say the decrease in milk consumed by teenage girls may be attributable to skipping breakfast or eating more meals away from home.