Kids who don’t drink water consume more sweetened beverages
Kids who don’t drink water consume more sweetened beverages One in five kids don't drink any water. (monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Thad Zajdowicz/Flickr)
Kids who don’t drink water consume more sweetened beverages
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This spring, the American Academy of Pediatrics called for taxes to be implemented on sugary drinks, a sign of growing concern over the amount of sugar kids are consuming via sodas, sweetened juices and other beverages. In a worrying indicator of the nation's sugary drink fixation, a new study has found that one in five children reported not drinking any water on a given day-and that those kids consumed more calories from sweetened beverages than kids who did drink water, according to Reuters' Lisa Rapaport.

The report, published in JAMA Pediatrics, analyzed nationally representative data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which offered information on 8,400 children between the ages of two and 19. Included in the survey were data on kids' water and sweetened beverage consumption, along with information about caloric intake from sugary drinks and the percent of total calories that came from these drinks.

Researchers found that around 20 percent of children reported drinking no water throughout the day. And they consumed almost twice as many calories, on average, than kids who did drink some water. Overall, the young study participants drank 132 calories of sodas and other sugary beverages per day. That number dropped to 112 calories with any intake of water, the researchers found. But kids who didn't drink any water took in an average of 210 calories from sweetened drinks.

"Adjusting for sociodemographic variables," the study authors write, "no water intake was associated with intake of 92.9 ... more calories from [sugar-sweetened beverages] among participants aged 2 to 19 years."

Those extra calories don't provide much in the way of nutritional value and they can add up, according to Asher Rosinger, lead study author and director of the Water, Health, and Nutrition Lab at Penn State. "What you have to remember is that an extra 3,500 calories equals one pound of weight gain," Rosinger says. "So if you're not compensating for those extra calories, then over a month, you can potentially gain a pound."

Sugary drinks have, in fact, been linked to childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes, dental problems and high cholesterol. "I've seen 2-year-olds with fatty liver disease and teenagers with Type 2 diabetes," Natalie Muth, a California-based pediatrician, told the New York Times' Andrew Jacobs last month. "These are diseases we used to see in their grandparents."

The new study doesn't definitively prove that drinking less water prompts kids to drink more soda, or vice versa, as Gizmodo's Ed Cara notes. But it does suggest that there may be an inverse relationship, and that adults should encourage kids to drink water so they don't swap it for something less healthful.

"Kids should consume water every single day, and the first beverage option for kids should be water," according to Rosinger. "Because if they're not drinking water, they're probably going to replace it with other beverages, like sugar-sweetened beverages, that are less healthy and have more calories."

It's important to note, as the study authors do, that the research does not account for the complex reasons why some children may not be drinking enough water. In the United States, as Sera Young reported for Scientific American in February, reports of water contamination from lead or copper are on the rise. In rural parts of the country, runoff from fertilizer is contaminating wells. Some families have their water shut off because they struggle to pay the bills.

So, boosting water intake among children-which may in turn reduce their consumption of sweetened beverages-isn't just about promoting water over sugary drinks. "Increasing access to safe, free water," the study authors write, "is critical for childhood health."

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What do you think could be done to cut down on the number of sweetened beverages consumed by kids?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • ethanb-eis
    9/19/2019 - 04:02 p.m.

    I think that kids should stop drinking sugary drinks because they can get type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. they say that they saw someone like that baby in the chocolate factory that ate a bunch of candy. 3,500 calories = 1 pound that means that sprite 150 calories that means you should not be drinking a lot of sprite at Cici's the pizza place you know.

  • Giuliana-sal
    9/20/2019 - 04:13 p.m.

    I think kids should stop drinking bad beverages we already eat tons of sugar and salty bad food, so why do we have to add so much more in to our also a kid and i love them but i also know i have to drink water even if i dont like it.

  • RLANDON-dal
    10/01/2019 - 09:25 a.m.

    I think we should start advertising either sparkling water or flavored water more. The flavored water would just be water but with certain vitamins in it to taste good. I was really surprised that so many kids drink soda instead of water. I don't drink soda because it was a new years resolution, but it kinda has turned into me just drinking water. Kids drinking soda is really unhealthy and bad, so we should just add more healthier options.

  • BLOGAN-dal
    10/01/2019 - 11:05 a.m.

    Schools can up or try harder on the rule about no sugary drinks, that would cut down kids having more soda/sugary drinks on a daily basis. Or they can up the prices on sodas, which would make the consumer more hesitant on if they should but the product.

    I was surprised that 1 out of 5 children don't drink water.

  • SELA-dal
    10/01/2019 - 11:16 a.m.

    In order for more kids to drink water, I think we should tell parents and kids (that are old enough to understand) that drinking water is important, and if you drink too many sweet drinks over water it can give a disease. I think a fundraiser to raise money for families that can't pay their bills, that way they can have free water.

    I was shocked when the article said that there have been two-year-olds with liver disease, and 19-year-olds with type two diabetes! My grandpa has that... and he's turning eighty!! Kids should not have to deal with diseases that can harm their lives, and if we can prevent it... we should.

  • TDYLAN-dal
    10/01/2019 - 11:58 a.m.

    stop buying them and/or selling them

    i never thought that over 20 percent of children get found with no water only sweet beverages

  • SNICK-dal
    10/01/2019 - 01:10 p.m.

    I think kids should stop drinking sugary drinks because it can lead to type 2 diabetes and sugar is a high source of calories so limit all of the sugary stuff your kid drinks and eats.

  • BGREYSON-dal
    10/01/2019 - 02:52 p.m.

    I think that there should be a higher tax rate on more caloric drinks so that they are harder to buy. I was shocked that 20% of children reported to not drinking any water at all during the day

    10/01/2019 - 02:53 p.m.

    I think that they should raise the price of soda and sweetened beverages and maybe lower the price of water. Also parents could maybe encourage their kids to drink water daily instead chugging bottles of soda. Maybe parents could start stocking their fridge with water instead of sweetened beverages to decrease the number of sweetened beverages consumed.

    10/01/2019 - 02:57 p.m.

    I was surprised when it said and I quote that "...they consumed almost twice as many calories, on average, than kids who did drink some water". I was surprised that they consumed almost twice as many calories. That's crazy.

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