The high temperature season has practically started and what becomes a very important element of a child’s everyday diet is the water. When we start expanding a child’s diet, that is, around its sixth month of life, we should start accustoming our little ones to drinking pure water, not flavored water, sweetened juices or sweetened sodas.
To begin, let me quote the ingredients of some popular beverages for children:
example no. 1 (juice): water, vegetable pastes, juice from concentrate, sugar
example no. 1 (juice): water, vegetable and fruit juices, sugar, high-fructose corn syrup
example 3 (flavored water): water, sugar, citric acid, sodium benzoate, flavour, strawberry juice from concentrate (0.1%)
example 4 (cola-type beverage): water, sugar, carbon dioxide, coloring: caramel E150d, phosphoric acid
Bases on the examples above it is clear that, unfortunately, most of beverages and juices, including those intended for children, contain sugar. Beverages are sweetened mainly in order to improve their taste. Parents often think that giving their child some juice made of fruit and vegetables is completely healthy but, sadly, they are wrong. Here I have to underline that I’m not talking about juices that are prepared fresh at home and don’t have sugar added.
According to A. Bremer and Robert H. Lusting who published in 2012 the article “Effects of sugar-sweetened beverages on children” in the “Pediatric Annals” magazine, the increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is one of the factors contributing to increasingly frequent occurrence of obesity and metabolic syndrome. The metabolic syndrome carries with itself the risk of developing, among others, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, arterial hypertension and abdominal obesity. It sounds pretty serious. According to the data collected by these scientists, in the American population about 35% of sugar added to meal is ingested in liquid form. Sugar-sweetened beverages often force the water out.
Unfortunately, our children are exposed to intrusive advertising of sugar-spiked products. Under the external layer of colorful packaging and smiling faces of the kids who advertise them (and often ride skateboards or bikes or do some other sport) there is hidden, first of all, the unhealthy composition of beverage that has added sugar and/or high-fructose corn syrup and, secondly, the packaging itself, which is made of plastics that contain bisphenol A and have a negative effect on health.
Little children get used to sweet beverages quickly and then it’s hard to break that habit and replace the juice with water.
Another problem is the lack of feeling of satiation adequate to the amount of calories in the beverage consumed. What’s this all about? Well, about the fact that when we eat the same amount of calories in the form of solid food, the feeling of hunger will disappear, replaced by the feeling of satiety. But in case of calorie-dense beverages the feeling of satiety is going to appear much later.
Another problems is the risk of dental caries. It increases together with the increase in sugar consumption.
I would also like to devote a longer while to the issue of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). It has been used in the food industry since 1960s due to significantly lower production costs when compared to sugar. It is attributed a significant role in development of a number of diseases, including: diabetes, obesity, arterial hypertension, lipid metabolism disturbances, diseases of the cardiovascular system, kidney stones and certain cancers (pancreatic cancer). The negative effects are observed in case of excess consumption. The problem is that the admissible daily dose of HFCS is equal to a single glass (250-300 ml) of a beverage sweetened with high fructose corn syrup and, according to dieticians, it exhausts the whole admissible daily dose of simple sugars. Additionally, the increased consumption of HFCS may lead to disturbance of hunger and satiety, which leads to excess weight and obesity! According to the studies conducted, including an extra portion of a beverage sweetened with HFCS with calorie value of 150kcal in everyday diet is going to result in the body weight increasing by 6.75 kg in a year. The consumption of beverages sweetened with HFCS is related to increased energy consumption and increase in body mass. These conclusions have been drawn on the basis of numerous scientific studies.
To conclude this bone-chilling article let me scare you a little bit with caramel E150d – the coloring included in the beverages of the cola type. It additionally increase the risk of occurrence of the so-called insulin resistance that leads to diabetes.
Phew… That’s enough horrors for today! I think we can all agree that the old Polish saying “Fresh water will give you better health” is very true!
author: Małgorzata Maciaszek, M.D.