Would You Offer 10 Teaspoons of Sugar To Your Child?

“Taylor, what would you like to drink with dinner…milk, water or how about 10 teaspoons of sugar?” Does that sound like a ridiculous thing to offer a child? Yet, that is what is in a 12-ounce can of soda pop! Soda provides empty calories. It provides no nutritional value, just calories, and is contributing to the rise in childhood obesity.

A straw stuck in the top of a globe graces the cover of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association (JADA), December 2008, issue. This image highlights a study involving soft drink intake and diet quality of Japanese women. Why Japan…because the current Japanese population has a relatively low intake level of soft drinks, unlike the United States. The study found that intake of soft drinks had a positive association with the intake of confections, fat and oil and carbohydrates and a negative association with the intake of vegetables, fruits and milk. This conclusion goes along with the accumulating evidence that suggests an association between soft drink intake and poor diet quality among youth in the United States. The influence of soft drinks on diet quality is now a question of considerable public concern.

Another JADA article looked at factors that influence soft drink consumption among children. Five hundred and sixty children ages 8 to 13 were surveyed. Researchers found:

  • Parental soft drink intake has a stronger influence than children’s peers.
  • The odds of drinking soft drinks almost daily was twice as likely for those who watched television 3.5 hours or more a day than those who watched less television.
  • The availability of soft drinks at home and the availability of soft drink vending machines in school were both strongly associated with children’s soft drink consumption.

Bottom line: soft drink consumption influences poor diet quality and parents influence soft drink consumption. Therefore, instead of offering your child soft drinks (or consuming it yourself) choose to offer water (which should make up the majority of daily fluid intake), skim milk (2 to 3 cups/day to meet calcium requirements), low sodium vegetable juices, 100% fruit juice (limit to 6 ounces/day) or these:

  1. Fruit Water – Add slices of fruit or veggies, such as lemons, oranges, watermelon, cucumber, mint or limes, to a pitcher of water. Place in fridge until cold, for a refreshing a flavorful drink.
  2. Jeltzer – Mix one part 100% fruit juice with three parts seltzer or carbonated water. Pomegranate or grape juice are particularly good in jeltzer and provide antioxidants and vitamin C for added health benefits.

–Mary Ligotti-Hitch, R.D., Beaumont Weight Control Center

Article adapted from JADA research article, “Soft Drink Intake Associated with Diet Quality Even Among Young Japanese Women with Low Soft Drink Intake,” December 2008, American Dietetic Association website media release July 2004 re: JADA research article, “Parents are Top Influencer on Soft-Drink Consumption Among Kids” and article “10 Soda Alternatives” from everydayHEALTH.

1 Response to “Would You Offer 10 Teaspoons of Sugar To Your Child?”


  1. 1 DR February 2, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Love this article! Great tips on how to encourage healthy habits for kids and adults. Strawberry’s added to water…looks yummy!


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