Dangers of sugary drinks don’t stop at soda

Hilo 15We all know about the dangers of sugary sodas. But what about fruit drinks, sports drinks, and flavored water?

Those drinks can have high amounts of added sugar, too, but they’re often considered — and marketed — as healthy.

New research shows why parents, especially, should be wary of those claims.

In a study released this month, the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut showed 80 percent of parents gave fruit drinks to young children under 5.

Parents were most likely to give their kids fruit drinks and regular soda, followed by sports drinks, sweetened iced tea, and flavored water. Many parents believed these sugary drinks are healthy options for kids.

That’s a problem because research has shown that children and teens consume more than twice the recommended amount of sugar, and that sugary drinks are the top source of added sugar in Americans’ diets.

So what should kids be drinking?

The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting added sugar to 10 percent of total daily calories.

Meanwhile, experts say kids 13 and under should drink only water, low-fat and nonfat milk, and 100 percent juice.

Adolescents should drink only water, low-fat and nonfat milk, 100 percent juice, and other non-caffeinated, non-fortified beverages with no more than 40 calories per container.

Many parents said they bought sugary drinks for kids because of nutritional claims on packaging — claims like “real” or “natural,” or “contains vitamins and antioxidants.”

Marlene Schwartz, director of the Rudd Center and a study author, said the survey shows that public health messaging about the dangers of sugary drinks shouldn’t just focus on sodas.

“There also needs to be increased attention to ingredient claims on product packaging and other marketing tools that may mislead parents to believe that some sugary drinks are healthful options for their children,” she said.

So there you have it, sugary drinks should be seen as a treat, not as a go-to health supplement. Rather than reaching for a sports drink, serve yourself — and your kids — up a tall, cold glass of water.

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