Kids who don’t drink water are consuming more sugary beverages. A new study from researchers at Penn State has found that kids and young adults who do not drink water throughout the day may consume twice the amount of calories from sugary drinks. According to study co-author Professor Asher Rosinger, the findings underscore the importance of children having access to clean water.
“Kids should consume water every single day, and the first beverage option for kids should be water,” said Professor Rosinger. “Because if they’re not drinking water, they’re probably going to replace it with other beverages, like sugar sweetened beverages, that are less healthy and have more calories.”
Professor Rosinger added that while other research has shown an overall decline in the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, there are still subpopulations of kids in the United States who are more likely to consume sugary drinks. His team set out to investigate the daily water intake of children and how this may affect caloric intake from sugar-sweetened beverages.
The research was focused on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, including information about the water and sugar-sweetened beverage consumption of 8,400 children between the ages of 2 and 19.
For the study, sugar-sweetened beverages included soda, fruit juices, sports drinks, energy drinks, tea, and coffee drinks, but did not include 100 percent fruit juices, drinks sweetened with zero-calorie sweeteners, or drinks that are sweetened by the consumer.
The study revealed that on any given day, about 20 percent of children reported drinking no water. The same children were found to consume 200 calories from sugar-sweetened beverages, which was twice the amount of calories from sugary drinks that were consumed by children who drank water.
According to Professor Rosinger, an extra 200 calories may not seem like a lot, but it can add up quickly if someone is drinking sugar-sweetened beverages on a regular basis.
“What you have to remember is that an extra 3,500 calories equals one pound of weight gain,” said Professor Rosinger. “So if you’re not compensating for those extra calories, then over a month, you can potentially gain a pound. Over several months, that could add up.”
The study is published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.