Watch what your children drink

November 21, 2008 in Healthy Eating, Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News

Watch what your children drink

The calories in soft drinks, juices and even lattes add up. What kids drink over the course of a day can be like eating a meal - without many valuable nutrients.

According to the first snapshot of beverage consumption from Statistics Canada, children aged 1 to 3 consume about 30 percent of their calories from drinks, mostly milk.

In school children aged 4 and up, the percentage of calories from drinks drops, with teenagers drinking less milk and more soft drinks.

The calories in soft drink and juices are a lot less nutritious than a soup or sandwich that might be lunch. Many drinks also contain high amounts of sugar or caffeine, two non-nutritive substances that promote weight gain.

Teenage boys in particular pick up a soft drink habit as they get older, say researchers at Stats Canada.

Fifty-three per cent of teenage boys drink sugary soft drinks on any given day, beverages that contain no calcium or other vitamins that are essential to growth.

Teenage girls don't drink as many soft drinks as boys but they were found to drink less and less milk.

About half the teenage girls surveyed reported drinking no milk on that day. This means they are missing out on bone-building nutrients like vitamin A and D, magnesium and calcium.

Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating recommends children age 2 to 8 get two servings of milk and alternative every day.

Pre-teens and teenagers aged 9 to 18 should aim for 3-4 servings. One cup (250 ml) of milk or a fortified soy beverage counts as one serving of this food group.

As much as possible, choose milk or soy beverages that are lower in sugar with zero or 1% milk fat (M.F.).

For more tips on healthy eating for children, check out Healthy Eating for Pre-teens and Teens by Leslie Beck, RD.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.