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Cut Soda to Fight Childhood Obesity

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Getting rid of sugar-laden drinks and replacing them with water has a dramatic impact on the amount of calories children consume and could help in the fight against childhood obesity.

Researchers from Columbia Mailman School of Public Health in New York found that children get 10 to 15 percent of the daily caloric intake from empty calories.

“The key observation is that when kids substitute sugar-sweetened beverages with water, there is a significant decline in total energy intake without any compensatory increase in the consumption of other beverages or food,” said Dr. Y. Claire Wang.

Dr. Wang also noted that substituting calorie-free beverages “is a simple and effective way of eliminating the excess calories while improving the diet quality.”

Sugar-sweetened beverages “should be viewed as treats, not necessities, and water is a perfect substitute for the purpose of thirst-quenching,” Wang said.

Wang and her colleagues looked at diet data from the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Survey of over 4,000 children aged two to 19 years. They found that substituting sugar-sweetened beverages with water was associated with significant reductions in total calories consumed.

Wang and colleagues estimate that replacing all sugary drinks with water could cut out an average of 235 calories out of kids’ diets each day.

Since the late 1970s, consumption of sugary drinks by children and adolescents has increased “substantially,” and is thought to be “an important contributing factor to obesity,” the researchers point out in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

“Replacing these liquid calories with calorie-free beverage alternatives therefore represents a key strategy to eliminate excess calories and to prevent obesity in childhood,” they conclude.

Related Posts on www.kidsdr.com

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