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Liquid Calories = Weight Gain
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.
This is one of the findings of a study from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: Growth and Health Study. (The Journal of Pediatrics: February 2006) In this study, researchers tracked the milk, soda, fruit juice, fruit-flavored drinks, coffee and tea intake of 2,371 nine-year-old girls for 10 years. During the 10 year span, the girls' soda consumption tripled while their milk intake dropped by 25%.
While monitoring the BMI (Body Mass Index) of the girls, researchers found that the girls who drank the most soda tended to be heavier than those who drank the least.
"Liquid Calories" Equals Extra Weight Gain
In an analysis of 88 soda studies conducted at Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University (The American Journal of Public Health, April 2007), researchers cited a clear association between soft drink intake and taking in more calories. They concluded that people who get extra "liquid calories" don't compensate for this added caloric intake by eating less food. In fact, some studies indicated that the people who regularly drank soft drinks ate even more, thus taking in more calories than those contained in their soft drinks.
It's Not Just Soft Drinks!
In another study conducted at Pennsylvania State University, researchers found that drinking lots of soda and juice drinks may lead to poor health and teen obesity as young as age 13. In this study, researchers tracked 154 girls (seen every two years) since age five. They concluded that by the age of 13, 14% of the girls were demonstrating risk factors for metabolic syndrome (risk factors that indicate possible heart disease, stroke and/or type 2 diabetes), such as big waistline, high blood pressure and a low level of good (HDL) cholesterol.
Regarding diet, researchers found that the only significant difference between the "high risk" group and the other groups was the intake of sugary drinks. The "high risk" girls consumed more sugary drinks, and at age nine, were consuming 50% more servings of sweetened beverages than the lowest-risk girls.
And it wasn't just soda. In their earlier ages, the girls' sweetened drink intake included more 10% fruit juices, sports drinks, and other flavored beverages with added sugar. In their later ages, they consumed more soda.
Although there's no added sugar in 100% fruit juice, the calories from the natural sugars found in fruit juice can add up. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends limiting juice intake to 4 to 6 ounces (118 to 177 milliliters) for children under seven years old, and no more than 8 to 12 ounces (237 to 355 milliliters) of juice for older children and teens.
What should we drink?
Instead of soda, energy drinks or fruit drinks with added sugar, choose water, low-fat or skim milk and 100% juice (in moderation). For the children who really love that juice, try making a nice cold, flavored-water drink consisting of half water, half juice and crushed ice. As Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, director of Sports Nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center says, "What kids are eating at young ages does have an impact!"
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics: "The Use and Misuse of Fruit Juice in Pediatrics"
The Children's Center
1100 Central Ave. SE
Albuquerque, NM 87106
NICU 800-432-4600, ext.1090
Pediatric Urgent Care (Albuquerque)
1100 Central SE
Open every day, 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Major holidays, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
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