It seems like whenever you go to the supermarket these days, there’s always a brand new flavour of sugary drink on offer. A new green energy drink, a classic infusion with a new fruit flavour, or some kind of super enhanced blue coloured fruit juice.
There are even some restaurants now offering ‘create-your-own’ flavour combinations of soft drinks, with seemingly unlimited variations. And with free refills, it sounds like excellent value right?
But it’s not good news.
Not for children anyway.
High sugary drinks and teeth
It’s likely that you’re already well aware of the story of what happens to a penny coin when you leave it over night in a class of coca-cola, (or another similar soft drink).
It dissolves, just like soft drinks dissolve your teeth.
For children who still have their baby teeth, high sugary drinks can work fast, causing both tooth decay and gum disease. This can lead to many complications later in life.
But there are more troubling concerns too.
Diabetes and obesity
The rise in diabetes and obesity amongst the population in general, but specifically in children, is in large part a result of the prevalence of soft drinks in our society.
The high sugar content in fizzy drinks cannot be broken down in the stomach, and is instead converted to fat and stored inside the body. This is the hardest type of fat to break down, even for children with active metabolisms.
Obesity is not far around the corner, and the high sugar content in children’s blood is largely responsible for the development of diabetes in many under sixteens in the UK.
Cancer and asthma
Further studies have delved deeper into the impact of soft drinks on our health, and the results are extremely worrying, both for adults and children.
These studies found that:
- High, regular consumption of soft drinks has a negative pulmonary impact. In layman’s terms, fizzy drinks contribute to lung problems such as asthma and COPD.
- Two or more soft drinks per week on a long term basis contributed to an increased risk of pancreatic cancer in a Chinese study.
- And as well as pancreatic cancer, regular soft drink consumption could also be responsible for increasing prostrate cancer risk in men too.
Perhaps even more surprising – and directly related to children – a study in the journal of paediatrics found that teenagers who drink more than five cans of fizzy drinks (non-diet) a week are significantly more likely to show signs of violent and aggressive behaviour.
Perhaps you’ll think twice about the drinks you serve at the next family meal?
Diet drink instead?
Many of us are aware of the high sugar content in fizzy drinks, and opt instead for diet varieties, especially if we’re giving them to our children.
But there are still concerns about the effects of artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, although studies have yet to prove anything conclusively. One study did however link excessive consumption of diet soft drinks with an increased risk of cardiovascular stress.
Choose water where possible
However, it’s likely that if you have to drink fizzy drinks, the diet options are a ‘more healthier’ version, if such a thing exists.
Given the choice, parents should encourage their children to drink clear, fresh water wherever possible. Some of us do find it difficult to ‘like’ just plain water, but it’s undoubtedly the best option for us, and extremely important for our health and well-being.
Remember that these are just some studies, and they only analyse a small number of people comparatively. We shouldn’t be scared away from soft drinks, we should just practice caution and moderation, and ensure children learn the same thing.
A glass of coke is OK now and then for a treat. But it should never replace water.
And exercise should always form an important part of a child’s lifestyle too. Don’t forget to check out the different classes and programmes we offer at Hale Country Club to get inspired or join in.