A study from Cornell University shows that children who ingest sugar-filled drinks are fatter than those who do not take in lots of sugared drinks. Researchers followed 30 children for five days a week for two months. Children who drank more than 12 ounces of sweetened drinks gained significantly more weight than children who drank less than six ounces a day.

The sugar in drinks does not fill the children up, so the extra calories in drinks do not cause the children to eat less food with the drinks. In fact, the children who drank more sweetened drinks actually ate more food, not less. They obtained extra calories from two sources, the drinks and their food, so they gained more weight.

Sweetened drinks include soda, fruit punch, sweetened tea, and fruit-flavored drinks or juices. The more sweetened beverages the children consumed, the less milk they drink, because most children prefer sweetened drinks to milk. Children who consumed more than 12 ounces of sweetened drinks a day ate less calcium and zinc than the recommended amounts. Children who took in sweetened drinks rather than milk, got 20 percent less phosphorus, 19 percent less protein and magnesium, 16 percent less calcium and 10 percent less vitamin A per day.

During the two-month study, children who drank more than 16 ounces a day of sweetened beverages gained an average of 2.5 pounds, compared with less than one pound for children who consumed on average 6 to 16 ounces of sweetened drinks a day. Care givers are less likely to serve milk when they also serve sweetened drinks.

June 2003 Journal of Pediatrics

Checked 5/3/07

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