Whether you are a proponent of the highly debated soda tax or defiantly against it, you need to know the baseline on soda and its contribution to your child’s diet so you’re both not in the outfield!
Strike One: Phosphoric acid.
The acidic component of soda that contributes taste and color. Phosphoric acid is a known bone calcium depleter. During the teenage years, when the accumulation of bone mass is at its greatest, drinking soda may be detrimental. If soda is a mainstay of your teen’s beverage diet, you may want to re-think this drink. Instead,
crowd out soda with healthy drinks such as milk, water, and 100% juices.
Strike Two: Caffeine.
A stimulant found in many sodas, particularly dark-colored sodas; often added to enhance taste. It is difficult to know the amount of caffeine in a given cola, as manufacturers are not required to label caffeine content. Caffeine consumption on a regular basis may alter brain function in adults. Even scarier, there is very little research on the effects of caffeine on the developing brain. Caffeine may cause dependence and withdrawal symptoms in children, including “the jitters” (often confused with hyperactivity), dehydration, and headaches. Caffeine may also interrupt a good night’s sleep. Not something we wish upon our children (or ourselves!). Beware of diet colas; these may have more caffeine than regular cola.
Strike Three: Extra calories in the form of sugar.
Research suggests that soft drinkers consume 200 more calories per day than non-soft drinkers. Additionally, it appears that the human brain may not register liquid calories in the same manner as food calories. In other words, people may not realize that drinking soda contributes to their total daily calorie consumption. A standard cola has about 135 calories per 12 oz. can, or almost 9 teaspoons of sugar. Of course, diet colas do not contribute to calorie intake, but some research suggests that people who drink diet cola may eat more sugary foods in response to their “no calorie choice”. It pays to think before you drink.
Three strikes, soda, and your out! Remember, soda counts…for calories and sugar, caffeine, and phosphoric acid, providing few nourishing benefits for children who drink them.