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Low Sugar Drinks for Kids

August 5, 2013 by HealthyFamilies BC


Getting kids to eat healthy foods is very important, but what about getting them on board with healthy drinks?

Unlike sugary drinks, healthy drinks do important jobs for children's growing bodies.

For example, milk provides calcium and vitamin D, essential for bone growth. Drinking plenty of water is also important for kids to satisfy thirst and keep their bodies hydrated. Healthy drinks provide these benefits without giving kids too many calories from sugar. Healthy drinks also protect the teeth from sugar and acid that can lead to cavities and pain.

Fast Fact: A large slushie can contain as much as 24 tsp of sugar.Sugary drinks are drinks that contain added sugars. Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to drinks or foods during processing or preparation. Sugary drinks often have little nutritional value other than extra calories. These drinks tend to "bump out" nutritious drinks and foods that growing children need to stay healthy. The extra calories in sugary drinks add up quickly and extra calories can lead to an unhealthy weight.

Many drinks popular with kids are often loaded with added sugar. Drinks commonly high in added sugar include:

  • pop
  • vitamin enhanced water
  • DID YOU KNOW? School aged children should eat no more than 13 teaspoons of added sugar per day from food and bought smoothies
  • slushes
  • bubble tea
  • sports drinks
  • energy drinks
  • flavoured milk
  • milkshakes
  • fruit "cocktail", "punch", or "drink"

For kids of all ages, water and milk are the best choices. Not only is water calorie free, but drinking it teaches kids to accept a low-flavour, no-sugar beverage as a thirst-quencher. Children should have water, milk, or plain fortified soy beverage most of the time. They do not need sugary drinks to have a well-balanced, healthy diet.

One hundred per cent unsweetened juice is a healthier choice than other sugary drinks because it contains nutrients such as Vitamin C. However, fruit juice still contains a lot of natural sugar and acid which can harm the teeth. For this reason, children should have no more than ½ cup of 100 per cent fruit juice a day. For dental health it is better to drink fruit juice with meals than between meals. Better yet, encourage your children to eat fresh fruit instead of juice.

DID YOU KNOW? 100% fruit juice is nutritious but high in natural sugar and calories. Children should limit their intake to 125 mL (½ cup) daily. Teens and adults should have no more than 250 mL (1 cup daily).This will:

  • Supply fibre and help prevent constipation.
  • Help with skills such as peeling and chewing.
  • Teach children about different textures, colours and tastes.
  • Provide a convenient, healthy and nourishing option for snacks.

It is important to get kids used to healthy drinks early on. The good news is that there are options to choose from that are still fun and enjoyable for kids.

Try these ideas:

Try this... Instead of this...
Sparkling water with fresh fruit Pop
Homemade smoothie Bottled store bought smoothies
½ cup 100% fruit juice Fruit "cocktail," "punch," or "drink"
Milk Flavoured milk

Allergy Alert! Are you concerned about food allergies? Talk to your child's doctor, a registered dietitian, or a public health nurse.

The information on the Healthy Eating pages of the Healthy Families BC website is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis or treatment from a physician or other qualified healthcare professional.


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