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The Effect of Soft Drinks on Children

by
author image Julie Boehlke
Julie is an avid outdoor enthusiast who loves to camp with friends and family. Julie spends her free time writing, working on her novel and brewing up new recipes of wine—her newest hobby. She enjoys scouring junk shops and antique boutiques in search of rare finds and one of-a-kind treasures. She collects vintage dishes and antiquarian books. Julie spends her days being followed around aimlessly by her most adoring fan—Mushu the pug. She ventures out on weekends to the remote trails and deep north woods of Michigan. Julie also enjoys exploring out of the way nooks and crannies along the great lakes shoreline.
The Effect of Soft Drinks on Children
A couple of children drinking soft drinks. Photo Credit: FlairImages/iStock/Getty Images

For many children, grabbing a soft drink at school seems like a quick fix for energy and nutrition. However, soft drinks contain a variety of ingredients that can be damaging to your child's health. According to a list of sugar in soft drinks from The University of Cincinnati, Clermont College, some popular soda drinks have over 40 grams of sugar per serving. Consumption of this much sugar can result in undesirable health effects, and parents should encourage alternatives to sugar-laden sodas for their children.

Dental Health

Consuming soft drinks can have a negative effect on your child's dental health. The American Dental Association explains that excess sugar intake, especially in sugared soft drinks, can damage the enamel on teeth. Bacteria feed off of sugar and form plaque on teeth. This can eventually lead to excess plaque buildup and cavities. If your child doesn't brush his teeth after a sugary drink, cavities can form, leading to tooth decay and gum disease.

Hyperactivity

Many parents see a difference in their child after she consumes a large amount of sugar. While some children are more affected than others, the link between consumption of sugar found in soft drinks and hyperactivity may have something to do with the fluctuating glucose levels they create in your child's body. Processed sugars found in soft drinks enter the bloodstream very quickly, explains MedlinePlus, the National Institutes of Health's comprehensive website of information about diseases and wellness. In some cases this sugar consumption can increase adrenaline in the body, which makes your child feel hyper or have increased energy.

Addiction

Some kids find themselves addicted to soft drinks, explains Gary J. Kaplowitz, DDS, MA, MEd in "An Update on the Dangers of Soda Pop" for Colgate Professional. This could be due to an addiction to the taste, the caffeine content, or the sugar content. All are contributing factors in why kids grab for a can of soda. Caffeine withdrawal can cause a myriad of symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, headaches, nausea, drowsiness and depression. KidsHealth states that children's caffeine withdrawal can be curbed if they slowly reduce their caffeine and sugar intake.

Weight Gain

One possible effect of your child drinking soft drinks is weight gain. While most soft drinks are only around 150 calories per 12 ounces, if consumed with other foods, it can be easy for a child to gain weight. Missouri Families explains that the added sugar in most soft drinks is what can cause weight gain. If your child has a sedentary lifestyle or slow metabolism, she may see an increase in her weight if she consumes sugary soft drinks regularly.

Solution

Soft drink machines are everywhere, including parks, fast food restaurants and many schools. Teach your child how to make healthier choices with what she drinks. Provide drinks with less refined sugar, like 100 percent fruit juices. Teach her to avoid carbonated drinks and energy drinks that include large amounts of caffeine. Drinking low-fat milk, an alternative to soft drinks, provides vitamins A & B, calcium, magnesium and protein your child's body needs to grow. Bottled water is also a better alternative to sugar-laden soft drinks.

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