The results from the Adolescent Health journal in the US, may have confirmed what many consumers could have predicted, but the findings have indicated that even dairy products with added sugar and sweeteners are significantly better in the development of children and adolescents.
The purpose of the study was to determine the association between intake of the primary food and beverage sources of added sugars and the intake of key nutrients and food pyramid groups among US children aged 16-17.
The analysis of over 3,000 children's diets showed that there was a meaningful decline in calcium intakes as the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages increased in children in aged between 6-11 and adolescents between 12-17. Only children aged 6-11 years who were non-consumers of sugar-sweetened beverages had a mean calcium intake that exceeded the Allowance Intake (AI). None of the other groups had a mean calcium intake that exceeded the AI.
Among 6-11-year olds those who consumed sugar sweetened beverages and sugars did not meet the Daily Recommended Intake of folate. And Iron intake significantly fell as the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages increased.
Folate and Iron are important for the formation of red blood cells and deficiency is normally associated with a bad diet.
Consumption of added sugars has dramatically increased in the US in recent years, and It is teenagers that consume more added sugar as a percentage of total energy than an other age group.
Sugars that are present in milk or fruit are considered natural sugars and not added sugars, and the study has shown that if teenagers choose soda drinks over milk, they are depriving themselves of nutrients such as folate, calcium and iron. These are essential for growth and development."
Dr. Rachel Johnson, professor at Vermont University said: "When sodas and fruit drinks replace dairy foods in the diet it is hard for children to get nutrients they need for growth and development"
Soft drinks are major sources of added sugar in the diets of US children aged 6-17. Sugar which is present in natural fruit and milk are not considered added. Added sugar contribute to 19 per cent of total energy for children and adolescents.
Winds of change
Recent research has shown that milk consumption is affected by the sales of soda-type drinks. Milk consumption decreases as a result of soda drink sales rising. In schools in both the US and UK this problem has been addressed.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released a new policy that recommends the sale of sweetened drinks in schools is restricted. In the UK the government has an initiative to set up pilot projects in schools promoting healthier lifestyle.
Multinational drinks company, Coca Cola, launched a milk beverage last summer in an attempt to bridge the gap between sweetened drink sales and milk consumption. Swerve is made with non fat milk and contains 30 per cent of the Recommended daily intake (RDI) of calcium.
Industry observers believe that Coca Cola is responding to pressure from child-nutrition advocates. With an increase of awareness of the problems associated with soda-type drinks, drink companies in the future may have to adopt a more health conscious plan to meet the nutritional needs of consumers.