Does your child have a fondness for soft drinks and other sweetened beverages? Although they may taste sweet now, giving a child soft drinks could cause them to be an overweight teenager later. According to new research, drinking sugar-sweetened beverages at age five significantly increases the risk of packing on extra pounds during the teen years.
Soft Drinks Now – An Overweight Teen Later?
In this new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers followed the beverage drinking habits of 166 girls over a ten year period. They wanted to know what types of sweetened beverages these girls drank as well as how much. They found that girls who drank two or more servings of sweetened beverages at age five were more likely to be overweight during later childhood and teenhood compared to those who drank a serving or less each day. To compare the two groups, 18.5 percent of girls who drank one serving or less were overweight at age fifteen compared to 32 percent who drank two or more, and the heavier soft drink drinkers were more overweight at ages nine and eleven too. It appears that children and soft drinks aren’t a good combination when it comes to weight control.
This same study also showed that children who drank larger amounts of soft drink at age five were more likely to have higher soft drink consumption later in childhood compared girls who kept their consumption down to a serving a day or less. When it comes to children and soft drinks, the more a child drinks at a young age, they more they’ll drink later, and the great the likelihood that they’ll become an overweight teen.
Children and Soft Drinks – A Bad Combination
This isn’t good news when it comes to the health of the future generation. Studies have already shown a correlation between obesity and soft drinks, and children who are overweight or obese are setting themselves up for health problems later in life such as diabetes and heart disease. Combine this with a lack of physical exercise and you have the perfect set-up for diabetes – a disease with lifelong health implications. Type 2 diabetes has been described as the “new epidemic” among children and teens, and some are placing the blame on soft drinks.
Overweight, Obesity and Soft Drinks: The Bottom Line?
When children start drinking soft drinks at a young age, it can not only lead to an overweight teen, but a higher risk of diabetes which carries with it lifelong health consequences. When a child starts drinking these sweetened drinks early on in life, they’ll continue to want them later. The best approach is to avoid giving children soft drinks entirely and help them cultivate a taste for healthier drink alternatives such as low-fat milk or water flavored with lemon or natural fruit juice. Set a good example by not drinking soft drinks yourself and keep them out of the house where they could be a temptation to young kids. You’ll be doing both you and your child a favor.