Kids of all ages love to drink popular drinks that their peers enjoy, including sugary drinks like sodas and artificially sweetened juices. As these types of drinks have grown in popularity, so has the quantity per serving as well as the variety available to consumers. Because of these factors, increased consumption of sugary drinks by children has resulted in a number of rising health issues. Here’s a look at a few of the effects of sugary drinks for children and a few tips on helping your child reduce or eliminate unhealthy drink choices.
Health Effects of Sugary Drinks
One of the most worrisome effects of sugary drinks for children is the increase in obesity rates. Studies have shown that children who consume as little as one cup (8 oz) of sugary drinks per day gained more weight and body fat than their counterparts who drank artificially sweetened drinks instead.  As a result of the increase in body weight and body fat storage, there has been an increase in childhood Type 2 Diabetes. In fact, some of the fat that is stored inside the body and around the internal organs may not be noticeable from the outside. Even a healthy looking child who consumes an excess of sugary drinks can be laying the groundwork for Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and even some types of cancer.
In addition to the major health effects outlined above, sugary drinks for children can have a major impact on dental health. Studies have shown that consumption of sugary drinks can cause early development of childhood cavities and early loss of baby teeth. These two issues alone should cause parents to pause and think about their children’s consumption of sugary drinks. In turn, cavities can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Poor habits, such as choices in drink choices, are often carried over into adulthood, leading to further issues in dental health.
Last but certainly not least is the lack of nutrition in sugary drinks for Soda literally contains zero nutrients. It also suppresses the appetite so kids are less likely to eat wholesome, nourishing foods, turning instead to junk food snacks. Sugary drink consumers are also less likely to get the recommended daily levels of vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, and other nutrients. Phosphorus, a very common ingredient in sodas, can actually cause depletion of calcium in the bones. In fact, girls who drink more soda are more prone to broken bones.
In addition, caffeine can cause a real, physical addiction. Caffeine stimulates the adrenal gland to excess and can lead to adrenal exhaustion in children. Withdrawals from high levels of caffeine can result in symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, headaches, nausea, drowsiness and depression.
Advice for Parents on Reducing Sugary Drinks for Children
The best way to help reduce the amount of sugary drinks your child consumes is to lead by example. Studies show that the amount of sugary drinks that a parent consumes directly affects the amount of sugary drinks the child consumes, regardless of how much they know about the health risks associated with these types of drinks.  This is not to say that the health risks should be ignored or downplayed. It is very important, of course, that both child and parent are educated about the risks that ongoing, excessive consumption of sugary drinks can have on children.
The next step is to teach children how to make good choices. Just telling them not to drink sugary drinks is not enough. Parents need to prove alternatives that will be both appealing and healthy for the child. Parents should provide drinks with less refined sugar, like 100% fruit juices (4 ounces or less per day). Teach them to avoid carbonated drinks as well as popular energy drinks that include large amounts of caffeine. Low-fat milk is a great alternative to soft drinks. It provides vitamins A & B, calcium, magnesium and protein; all things your child's body needs to grow. Of course, our preferred and highly recommended choice is bottled water. It may not be as appealing to your child, but it will help prevent dehydration, dry skin and acne.
Another alternative is to offer fresh fruits and vegetables instead of sweet drinks. Juice in itself is not a requirement for a healthy and nutritious diet for children. Encouraging them to eat fresh fruits and vegetables instead of drinking juice will:
- supply fiber that will aid in proper digestion
- provide a healthy and nourishing option for snacks
- help to establish better eating and drinking habits
If you do include juice in your child’s diet, try to limit it to 1/2 cup of no-added-sugar juice, and even then only occasionally. Encourage your child to eat the whole fruit or vegetables, and drink bottled water or milk rather than juice.
If you’re still looking for more information on the effects of sugary drinks for children and how to help establish a healthy and nutritious diet, take a moment to check out our newsletters.
- Ruyter JC, Katan MB, et al. A trial of sugar-free or sugar-sweetened beverages and body weight in children. N Engl J Med. 2012; 367:1397-406.
- Lim S, Tellez M, et al. Estimating a Dynamic Effect of Soda Intake on Pediatric Dental Caries Using Targeted Maximum Likelihood Estimation Method. Caries Res. 2019 Mar 19:1-9. doi: 10.1159/000497359.
- Ziegler AM, Temple JL.Soda Consumption is Associated with Risk-Taking Behaviors in Adolescents. Am J Health Behav. 2015 Nov;39(6):761-71. doi: 10.5993/AJHB.39.6.3.
- Ditmar MF. Behavior and development. In: Polin RA, Ditmar MF, eds. Pediatric Secrets. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 2.
- Kaplowitz GJ. An update on the dangers of soda pop.Dent Assist. 2011 Jul-Aug;80(4):14-6, 18-20, 22-3 passim; quiz 29-31.
- Lundeen EA, Park S, et al. Adolescent Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Intake is Associated With Parent Intake, Not Knowledge of Health Risks. Am J Health Promot. 2018 Nov;32(8):1661-1670. doi: 10.1177/0890117118763008.
Many parents put off having their children seen by their pediatrician until the child is sick or not feeling well. However, preventative care is extremely important to keeping your children as healthy as possible. A child experiences many periods of rapid growth and development as they age. Because of this, routine well-child check-ups are recommended to ensure your child is growing and developing the way they should be. Well-child check-ups are recommended more when a child is very young, such as for a newborn or infant, and decrease as the child ages – but no matter how old your child is, they should see their pediatrician for a well-child check-up annually at a minimum.
Preventative care is one of the biggest reasons to have your child receive their annual well-child check-up. These visits provide the pediatrician the opportunity to see your child at their healthiest and to ensure they are providing the necessary preventative care to keep your child as healthy as possible. During a well-child check-up, your child’s pediatrician will review your child’s personal medical history and relevant family medical history, check your child’s vitals such as height, weight, and temperature, complete a comprehensive physical examination, complete health-risk assessments, and provide any immunizations that need updating.
Tracking Your Child’s Growth & Development
Measuring your child’s growth and development and tracking it over a period of time to ensure their development is age-appropriate and there are no concerns of a developmental delay is another important reason for taking your child to routine well-child visits with their pediatrician. Developmental screenings are provided at age-appropriate intervals to measure the child’s gross and fine motor, communication, problem solving, social, and emotional growth and development. Vision, hearing, and depression screenings are included in this part of the well-child visit at certain ages.
Building A Relationship With The Pediatrician
You and your child having a close and trusting relationship with their pediatrician is important for many reasons. If your child does get sick, they want to know the person they are going to see for evaluation and treatment is reliable and can be trusted. Even if your child is generally healthy, well-child visits provide the opportunity for the child to build a relationship with their pediatrician that will make them comfortable sharing information if concerns do arise as they grow older. The well-child visit is also a great time for you to discuss any questions or concerns you have related to your child’s health such as concerns with their eating or sleeping habits and what to expect as your child continues to grow.
Schedule Your Child’s Well-Child Visit Today!
Visiting your child’s pediatrician shouldn’t only happen when your child is sick. If you have fallen behind on bringing your child to their recommended well-child visits, contact Children’s Medical Center today to schedule an appointment with their primary care provider. We are proud to support a child’s whole health – and the well-child check-up is the first step to keeping them as healthy as possible.
- You or your child hears a snap or grinding noise as the injury occurs
- Your child experiences swelling, bruising or tenderness to the injured area
- It is painful for your child to move it, touch it or press on it
- The injured part looks deformed
What Happens Next?
- Call 911 - If your child has an 'open break' where the bone has punctured the skin, if they are unresponsive, if there is bleeding or if there have been any injuries to the spine, neck or head, call 911. Remember, better safe than sorry! If you do call 911, do not let the child eat or drink anything, as surgery may be required.
- Stop the Bleeding - Use a sterile bandage or cloth and compression to stop or slow any bleeding.
- Apply Ice - Particularly if the broken bone has remained under the skin, treat the swelling and pain with ice wrapped in a towel. As usual, remember to never place ice directly on the skin.
- Don't Move the Bone - It may be tempting to try to set the bone yourself to put your child out of pain, particularly if the bone has broken through the skin, do not do this! You risk injuring your child further. Leave the bone in the position it is in.
At some point in our childhood, we might have experienced chicken pox. While chicken pox most often occurs in children under the age of 12, it can also occur in adults who never had it as children.
Chickenpox is an itchy rash of spots that look like blisters and can appear all over the body while accompanied by flu-like symptoms. Chickenpox is very contagious, which is why your pediatrician in places a strong emphasis on keeping infected children out of school and at home until the rash is gone.
What are the Symptoms of Chickenpox?
When a child first develops chickenpox, they might experience a fever, headache, sore throat or stomachache. These symptoms may last for a few days, with a fever in the 101-102 F range. The onset of chicken pox causes a red, itchy skin rash that typically appears on the abdomen or back and face first, then spreads to almost any part of the body, including the scalp, mouth, arms, legs and genitals.
The rash begins as multiple small red bumps that look like pimples or insect bites, which are usually less than a quarter of an inch wide. These bumps appear in over two to four days and develop into thin-walled blisters filled with fluid. When the blister walls break, the sores are left open, which then dries into brown scabs. This rash is extremely itchy and cool baths or calamine lotion may help to manage the itching.
What are the Treatment Options?
A virus causes chickenpox, which is why your pediatrician in will not prescribe an antibiotic to treat it. However, your child might need an antibiotic if bacteria infects the sores, which is very common among children because they will often scratch and pick at the blisters—it is important to discourage this. Your child’s pediatrician in will be able to tell you if a medication is right for your child.
If you suspect your child has chickenpox, contact your pediatrician right away!
A hearing screening is the easiest way to determine if your child is suffering from hearing loss. Thanks to a hearing screening, your pediatrician can determine the degree of hearing loss and how best to help your child hear well again. If your child’s hearing loss goes undiagnosed, it can lead to problems with normal development, learning disabilities, and problems socializing with others.
Your child could be suffering hearing loss from a variety of causes including a family history of hearing problems, infection during pregnancy, or birth complications. Hearing problems can also be caused by middle ear infections, infectious diseases, or even loud noises.
So, how do you know if your child needs a hearing screening? According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) these are some of the most common signs and symptoms of hearing loss in babies and children:
- Not turning toward sounds at 6 months
- Not saying single words at 1 year
- Not hearing all sounds
- Not answering to their name
- Delayed or unclear speech
- Difficulty following directions
Hearing screenings are often performed at well-child visits and during school physicals. If your child hasn’t had a hearing screening, and you notice any of the signs and symptoms listed above, you should schedule a hearing screen as soon as possible. Early detection of hearing difficulties leads to early treatment, which is much better for your child.
If your child has hearing difficulties, don’t worry. There are many effective ways to help with hearing loss including:
- State-of-the-art hearing aids, cochlear implants and other hearing devices
- Medications if the hearing loss is caused by an ear infection
- Surgical treatment to correct structural issues which may be causing the hearing loss
- Alternative communication techniques
- Educational and supportive services for the family
A hearing screening is important to the health and well-being of your child. You don’t want your child to miss out on all of the beautiful sounds of life. Your pediatrician can help you schedule a hearing screening to get your child started on the road to hearing well.
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