Drinks Help Children Get Fat
NewsWASHINGTON (Reuters) - The proof's in the calories:
those sweet sodas, bottled teas and fruit drinks can make your children fat,
U.S. researchers said on Friday.
Children who drank more than 12 ounces of
sweetened drinks a day gained significantly more weight over two months than
children who drank less than 6 ounces a day, the team of nutritionists at
Cornell University in New York found.
The soft drink industry has long argued
that a lack of exercise and not the availability of drinks is responsible for
the rise of obesity in the United States.
But the Cornell team's study of 30 children
aged 6 to 12 found that on days when they drank sweetened drinks, they took in,
on average, 244 more calories a day.
The children did not eat any less food to
compensate for the extra calories in the sodas, lemonades and other drink
treats, the researchers said.
Children who drank more than 16 ounces a
day of sweetened beverages gained an average of 2.5 pounds, compared with a
0.7- to 1-pound gain in children who consumed on average 6 to 16 ounces of
sweetened drinks a day, they found.
"These findings suggest that sweetened
drinks may be a significant factor in the increase in obesity among children in
the United States," said David Levitsky, a professor of nutritional sciences
and of psychology who oversaw the study.
Writing in the Journal of Pediatrics,
Levitsky and Ph.D. candidate Gordana Mrdjenovic defined sweetened drinks as
soda, fruit punch, bottled tea or drinks made from fruit-flavored powders, such
as grape and lemonade.
They also found that children tended to
pass up milk when they were offered a sweet drink, and that caregivers tended
to offer either milk, or a sweet drink, but not both.
Children getting 12 ounces of more of soft
drinks got 20 percent less phosphorus, 19 percent less protein and magnesium,
16 percent less calcium and 10 percent less vitamin A per day than recommended
by the U.S. government.
The World Health organization estimates
that there are 17.6 million overweight children under age 5, with 20 percent of
children in European countries obese or overweight. Fifteen percent of U.S.
children aged 6 to 11 are overweight.
The Center for Science in the Public
Interest, a non-profit health interest group has lobbied for a tax on soft
drinks, calling them "liquid candy."
"Soda pop is Americans' single biggest
source of refined sugars, providing the average person with one-third of that
sugar," the CSPI said in a statement.
"Twelve- to 19-year-old boys get 44 percent
of their 34 teaspoons of sugar a day from soft drinks."