Canadian boys who drink pop and other sweetened beverages are at higher risk for obesity and overall, the sugary drink pattern for kids is heading in the wrong direction, a new study suggests.
Researchers looked at what Canadians aged two to 18 reportedly consumed in the Canadian Community Health Survey. It defined sweetened, low-nutrient beverages as those with less than 100 per cent fruit juice, lemonades, regular soft drinks, and sweetened coffees or teas.
Sweetened beverages like pop, fruit punch and lemonade were the main ones consumed during childhood, nutrition Prof. Susan Whiting of the University of Saskatchewan and her co-authors say in the October issue of Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.
Boys aged six to 11 years who drank the most sweetened drinks, about 553 grams a day of soft drinks, had about double the risk of being overweight and obese compared with their peers, after taking factors like household income into account, the researchers said.
"A considerable proportion of Canadian children aged two to 18 years consumed a dominant pattern of sweetened beverages," the study's authors concluded.
Children form habits about what they eat and drink early in life and often continue those patterns into adulthood, they said.
"You don't want people to be too complacent about these drinks," Whiting said in an interview. "I think other research shows that if it gets out of hand that these sugary beverages can make a big impact on weight."
Canadian intakes haven't reached that of the U.S. but are heading in that direction, Whiting said.
Higher Pop Intakes
"The trend is still for higher intakes," she noted, based on her previous research of consumption among boys and girls in Saskatoon.
While girls consumed less pop than boys in the latest study, Whiting is concerned that children and teens are substituting milk for soft drinks in their diet.
Average consumption of sugary beverages not including chocolate milk, for U.S. teens was 629 grams per day compared with 476 in Canada based on national survey data.
Since the survey was done in 2004, schools and recreation facilities have removed pop machines.
The next such national survey is scheduled for 2015.
In the survey, participants or their parents were only asked about consumption on a single day rather than checking for changes over time, which is a limitation of the research.
Investigators collected data on physical activity and sedentary time like time spent playing video games for participants aged six to 11.
The research, which was funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, was representative of the country's population.
With files from CBC's Amina Zafar
Commercial brands deliver a calorie-free water with a hint of anything from cucumber to lemon to blueberry -- but these sips are just as easy (and less expensive) to make at home. <br><br> Simply cut up your favorite fruit or vegetable and leave in a pitcher of water for at least three hours, <a href="http://www.marthastewart.com/345529/pineapple-mint-infused-water" target="_hplink">according to Martha Stewart's recipe</a>. You can also add herbs like mint or rosemary for an extra flavor punch.
This iced treat is an easy way to control the terms of your tea: caffeinated varieties like black, green and white tea make nice, strong iced teas -- but herbal options also abound for those of you who care to stay caffeine-free. <br><br> Simply brew a strong tea -- if you like your drinks sweet, add a hint of honey. Leave in the refrigerator until cool and then pour over ice. Or try one of Eating Well's <a href="http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/recipe_slideshows/healthy_iced_tea_recipes" target="_hplink">healthy iced tea recipes</a>. <br><br> The tea <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/05/health-benefits-of-tea_n_1126594.html" target="_hplink">also delivers a burst of polyphenols</a> -- an antioxidant found in tea tannins -- that can help stave off some cancers and regulate cholesterol.
Seltzer + Juice
NYU nutritionist and HuffPost Healthy Living contributor Lisa Young recommends adding a splash of juice to plain seltzer for a jazzed up treat. "It beats sugar in sodas!" she told The Huffington Post. <br><br> Unconvinced? Read this <a href="http://www.foodrepublic.com/2011/08/01/i-am-seltzer-man" target="_hplink">ode to the mix</a>.
This fermented tea has gained popularity in recent years for its purported health benefits (for more on that, see Nutrition and Fitness Editor <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/meredith-melnick/kombucha-tea_b_1304730.html" target="_hplink">Meredith Melnick's 'buch explainer</a>), and while those remain controversial, there is no denying that the drink is low-calorie, low-sugar, low-caffeine and hydrating.
For those who get a kick from caffeine, flavored water just can't beat a Diet Coke. That's where iced coffee comes in: highly adaptable (add or skip the sugar! use dairy milk or a substitute like almond!), relatively inexpensive and with a strong, almost caramel-like flavor, a cold, eye-popping coffee can serve as a lower sugar alternative to your favorite soda. <br><br> And research shows that coffee may have health benefits that extend well beyond weight management: <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/03/coffee-heart-disease-cancer_n_1316480.html" target="_hplink">helping to protect</a> against several types of cancer, Type 2 diabetes and more.
Flavored seltzer can stave off cravings for the sweeter stuff. Although they are low-calorie and caffeine-free, they are full of flavors like raspberry, lemon-lime or black cherry and are just as refreshing.
Unlike bottled varieties, freshly juiced fruits and vegetables have no added sugar. By selecting the ingredients, you can also control sugar portions by tempering sweet fruits like mangoes, grapes and melons with low-sugar, high-fiber fare such as kale, celery and lettuce.