What's in Your Soft Drink?

Empty Calories

The empty calories from just one soda every day can lead to obesity, a growing concern in the United States. Obesity is a leading cause of death and contributes to serious health problems such as cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and osteoporosis.

Diet soda is not recommended for children and teens. Their bodies are still developing, and they require certain levels of nutrients to ensure proper physical growth and development. Although diet sodas may have less or no sugar, they still provide no nutrients, and some research has linked them to weight gain. Children and teens consuming diet sodas are less likely to receive adequate levels of nutrients their bodies need.

Some healthful alternatives to soda include:

  • Water, plain or sweetened with a little fruit juice
  • 100 percent fruit juice
  • Vegetable or tomato juice
  • Low-fat or skim milk
  • Herbal, white or green teas

Additional alternatives include fruit smoothies or a sherbet delight, a mixture of two or three fruit juices topped with a scoop of sherbet.

Making the decision to reduce or eliminate soda consumption in your home has to be one with which all family members are willing to comply. Parental influence and whether soda is available in the home play large roles in whether children choose sodas over other, more healthful beverage choices.

Reviewed by Susan Janoff, MS RD LD/N

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