How to Help Your Child Cut the Sugary Drinks

Cutting back on added sugars, especially from sweetened beverages such as regular soda, fruit flavored drinks, and fruit juice with added sugar can help your child keep up a healthy weight.

Why should you limit sugary drinks?

There is a strong  link between drinking sugary beverages and obesity in children.  Kids who drink beverages with added sugar tend to consume more calories than kids who don’t. Sugary drinks also tend to displace milk in the diet, robbing kids of calcium and vitamin D, both important components for growing strong teeth and bones.

What should my child be drinking?

For children aged 2-5 years, serve water, low-fat, or fat-free milk instead of soda or sugary drinks during meal times and snacks. When children are thirsty, offer them water. Limit fruit juice (even 100% fruit juice) to no more than 4 to 6 ounces (1/2 cup to 3/4 cup) a day. Serve children fruit during meals and snack time in place of fruit juice. This will cut down on added sugar and calories and will give them fiber.

How do I know if a food or drink has added sugar?

Read the ingredient list on the package and make sure added sugars are not one of the first few ingredients. Some names for added sugars (caloric sweeteners) include: high-fructose, corn syrup, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, honey, sugar, syrup, corn syrup, sucrose, and dextrose.

What if my child won’t drink milk?

Here are some tips for encouraging children to drink more milk:

  • Offer milk in smaller servings several times a day during meals and as a snack.
  • Make a smoothie with low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt and fruit for breakfast or as a snack.
  • Make popsicles with low-fat milk, yogurt and fruit.
  • Swap low-fat milk in for water while cooking soups or hot cereals.
  • Serve low-fat yogurt on its own or mix in fresh fruit. Add it to pancakes, waffles, shakes, salad dressings, dips, and sauces.

What if my kid doesn’t like the taste of water?

Try adding a slice of lemon, lime, cucumber or watermelon to water for a little flavor with few calories or try serving sparkling water.

References
American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition. (2001). The Use and Misuse of Fruit Juice in Pediatrics, Pediatrics, 107(5), 1210-1213

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Rethink Your Drink

US Department of Health and Human Services (n.d.). We can! Families finding the balance: A parent handbook.

Alberta Health and Wellness (n.d.). Healthy eating and active living for your 1 to 5 year old.