Healthy Children - February 2014

 Kids, Eat Your Calories

Research shows American children on average consume more than 300 calories per day in sugary drinks with limited nutritional value.
Children who do not consume sugary drinks are 70 percent less likely to be overweight than their sugar-guzzling counterparts. Calorie-laden drinks, including juice, energy drinks, fruit drinks or soda, add extra calories without helping the child feel full. Children and adults will continue to eat despite the high-calorie impact of such beverages.

“Offering children juice or other sugar-laden drinks crowds out nutritious choices and teaches children drinks should always be sweet,” says Tara Todd, RD, outpatient dietitian at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “Milk that contains calcium and vitamin D – chocolate milk, almond milk, soy milk, and rice milk – and water are the only drinks a child needs.”

Separating Myth from Fact

Advertisers have convinced Americans juice is a healthful part of our diets, but drinking juice does not have the nutritional benefits of eating whole fruit. Every meal should contain at least one fruit or vegetable for good nutrition.

“The younger your children are when you make the switch to healthier choices, the less they will miss calorie-laden drinks,” Todd says. “If parents are concerned about what constitutes a healthful diet for their children and families, a one-time visit with a dietitian can help separate myth from fact.”