Nancy L. VanderSluis, M.D.
Picnicking at the park, cooling off after a baseball game, hanging out by the pool—recreational activities go hand-in-hand with cool refreshing drinks.
Boys Town Pediatrics urges parents not to make the mistake of giving children sugary drinks to quench their thirst. Soda, sweetened bottled tea and fruit drinks add useless calories to a child’s diet. Instead of sugary drinks, offer lots of water, low fat milk and a limited amount of 100% fruit juice.
Nutritionists at Cornell University in New York found that 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 six ounces a day.
According to their report, researchers at Cornell 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. If your child attends daycare, talk with his or her provider about offering milk or water during lunch and snack times.
Sugar does not need to be eliminated from the diet altogether. Sweets are not bad if they are consumed in moderation. The body needs sugar to function and the brain needs glucose to think. However, the majority of sugar in your child’s diet should come mostly from natural sources such as milk, fruit and grain products.
The recommended daily allowance of calories from sugar and starches (carbohydrates) is 55%. Of this amount, no more than 10% should come from refined sugar (sucrose).
Set up a consultation with your child’s doctor if he or she frequently binges on sweets, you repeatedly nag your child about sweets, you think your child has a problem with sugar or you have other questions or concerns.