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Cutting Down on Soft Drinks

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Do your children drink soft drinks? In talking with patients, especially the middle school and high school set, I ask about eating habits and the subject of what they drink always comes up. Of course I want them all to say they drink at least two glasses of milk a day, but I am often surprised. Many children drink water with their meals, some juices, and another group has a soft drink.

The teen set seems to drink more soft drinks than any other group, and some of them drink three to four per day!! They drink one for breakfast, followed by one at lunch and this is especially true for high schoolers who have off campus lunches. Then they will come home from school and have another with snack and then it’s dinnertime and there is another. Wow!! I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t hear it myself. The other surprising thing is that these are also not diet drinks and this information is often coming from teenage girls who are worried about their weight. Just think of how many calories per day they consume on liquids alone. They wouldn’t have to eat a thing, as their Coke, Dr. Pepper or Sprite is keeping their weight up. The issue of caffeine also comes up depending on their beverage of choice. I am sure they are not meeting their calcium and vitamin D needs either and cola products contribute to decreased bone density later in life.

What really amazes me is that parents continue to buy soft drinks. I found the easiest way to not have my kids drinking these beverages was just not to buy them! It took me a few years to figure this out, but it was so simple…we don’t have them routinely. Now, if you are having a party or it is a special occasion of course you might have them. But after that, they disappear and the issue of drinking soft drinks at home is moot. How easy is that?

Maybe we should have national “stop drinking soft drinks day”. But I always love those kids that say, Dr. Sue ” I don’t like those fizzy drinks, I just drink milk.” They are the easy ones.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat tomorrow.

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