University of North Carolina researchers have confirmed what many savvy parents have known for a while: sodas are bad for kids and kids simply shouldn't drink much of it.
In fact, the research at UNC finds that soda and sugar sweetened beverages are a gateway drink to more unhealthy foods.
Researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill found that kids who drink sodas have a higher caloric intake than those who don't. In other words, soda drinking kids seek out more calories throughout the day than children who don't. The university conducted its research on children between the ages of 2-5, 6-11 and 12 - 8 years.
On another not so surprising note, researchers found that kids who drink sodas couple their drinks with more unhealthy foods. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a pioneer on the war against sodas, obesity and school aged kids. Bloomberg proposed that food stamp recipients not be allowed to buy soda beverages with food stamps. New York has one of the higher obesity rates of school aged children in the nation.
Over the past 20 years, consumption of sugar sweetened beverages ( SSBs): — sweetened sodas, fruit d.rinks, sports drinks, and energy drinks — has risen, causing concern because higher consumption of SSBs is associated with high caloric intakes.
While the UNC study didn't attack other preventable effects of a daily soda habit, kids who drink sodas are a lot more susceptible to cavities. The UNC study does indeed suggest that soda intake as well as other sugar sweetened beverages are primarily responsible for higher caloric intake for children. Children who drink sodas eat more calories or seek out foods with higher caloric content.
The UNC study is a breakthrough because before now, politicians like Bloomberg, nutritionists and other experts couldn't say for sure if soda was the cause of a higher caloric intake or if other aspects of a soda drinker's diet were responsible for high calorie consumption.
“The primary aims of our study,” said lead investigator Kevin Mathias of the Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “were to determine the extent to which SSBs contribute to higher caloric intake of SSB consumers and to identify food and beverage groups from the overall diet that are associated with increased SSB consumption.”
Culling data from the 2003-2010 What We Eat in America, National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, investigators analyzed a sample of 10,955 children ages 2 to 18, and reported results for three separate age groups: 2-5, 6-11, and 12-18 year olds.
Results showed that while intake of food increased, intake of non-sweetened beverages decreased with higher consumption of SSBs. By examining both food and non-sweetened beverages the authors were able to conclude that SSBs are primarily responsible for higher caloric intakes among 2-5 and 6-11 year olds. A similar fınding was observed among children aged 12–18 years; however, both food and SSBs contributed to higher caloric intakes of adolescents consuming greater than 500 kcal of SSBs.
Mr. Mathias stated that, “Among all age groups analyzed, the energy density (calories per gram) of food consumed increased with higher SSB intake.” These findings suggest that higher consumption of SSBs is associated with consumption of foods with high caloric contents. “This is concerning because many foods that are associated with higher SSB consumption (e.g., pizza, cakes/cookies/pies, fried potatoes, and sweets) are also top sources of solid fats and added sugars; components of the diet that the 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommends Americans should limit.”
UNC study results are being released just days before New York City begins its ban on large sodas. On Tuesday New Yorkers will adhere to a new city law that prohibits sale of sodas larger than 16 ounces at restaurants,\ and delis. The new crackdown on sugar sweetened beverages means Dunkin Donuts can't sell sugar in their coffee anymore either.
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