Preschoolers who are already on the heavy side and drink one to two sweet drinks a day might be at greater risk of becoming obese. Some of these sweet drinks include Kool-Aid with sugar and all-natural apple juice. This finding might come as a surprise to parents who make a point of buying fruit drinks without added sugars for their children.
Nutritionists and the new U.S. dietary guidelines both agree on the same recommendation: It is better to eat whole fresh fruit than to consume fruit juice.
Research revealed that 3- and 4-year-olds who carried extra weight and consumed one to two sweet drinks a day were at double the risk of becoming seriously overweight one year later.
In order to study the effects of sweet drinks researchers followed over 10,000 Missouri children who were divided into three groups: normal and underweight, those at risk of becoming overweight and those who were already overweight.
Some of the components of the study included comparing children's heights and weights and parents' reports of what their children ate and drank over the course of a four-week period.
The study uncovered a link between sweet drinks and being overweight among all three weight categories of the participants, however the statistics weren't as significant for those children who fell into the normal and underweight category.
Other factors such as ethnicity, birth weight and high-fat diets didn't change any of the effects of sweet drinks.
Unsweetened Solutions From the Experts
One Chicago Head Start program banned juice last year as a way to fight the obesity epidemic
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended limiting preschoolers to 4 to 6 ounces of juice per day
One preschool, based on recommendations from a community nurse, added more fruits and vegetables to meals and more exercise to the daily schedule
Nutritionists believe the reason behind sweet drinks causing weight gain is that sweet drinks are calorie-dense, low-fiber foods that might trigger overeating. They also reported that these types of foods are quickly consumed but less filling than foods that contain high amounts of fiber.
The Vice President at the American Beverage Association was skeptical of the study results because it left out factors such as television viewing, overweight parents and children's activity levels.
Pediatrics February 2005;115(2):e223-e229 (Free Full-Text Article)