Kids love packaged drinks such as soft drinks, fruit juices, carbonated drinks, etc. They are readily available everywhere and can be consumed with almost anything, including snacks and meals. Packaged drinks are thirst-quenching, and they provide better hydration to the body instantly. Kids get to stay hydrated for a considerably long period, especially when playing outdoors. Thus the purchase rate of packaged drinks increases to a great extent during the summer season. Due to smart advertising, children fall prey to the Also, packaged drinks are heavily advertised to children, and parents are tricked into buying them for their kids, as most of the drinks are labeled as healthy. But they are bad for your kids, let’s understand how.
Why do kids like packaged drinks? Why are they popular?
The majority of people around the world lead a busy lifestyle. They face more time constraints from work, parenting, and commuting, so they often turn to convenience foods. They always look for quick-fix solutions labeled as healthy and require no effort to prepare.
Convenience food is a type of food that is often pre-prepared and preserved for long-term storage. Convenience foods include packaged drinks, ready-to-eat dry products, frozen foods, shelf-stable foods, canned products, processed meats, prepared mixes, and snack foods. Although these convenience foods save time, they tend to have lower nutritional values and can be more expensive than the food we prepare at home.
Most packaged drinks are full of sugar, and most kids always have sugar cravings. Sugar has an effect similar to an addictive drug. Kids, as a result, are pretty addicted to it. What makes sugar, so potentially addictive is the release of the chemical compound dopamine. Dopamine is a well-known chemical that gives the satisfying “feel good” feeling. So, when kids ask for more sugar, they may want the rush that comes with sugar rather than the sugar itself!
Some packaged drinks contain large amounts of caffeine. It is a natural stimulant present in coffee, tea, chocolate, and other food and drinks. Caffeine is classified as a drug because it stimulates the central nervous system. It blocks the effects of a chemical called adenosine, which makes you feel sleepy. Caffeine can make people feel more alert and energetic.
Reasons not to give packaged drinks to your kids
Packaged drinks have their own set of drawbacks that have impacted kids’ health in various ways.
1. Provides No Nutritional Value
The wide range of packaged drinks that kids consume has zero nutritional value. The ingredients in these drinks can never possibly benefit the health of the individuals who consume them. They ultimately result in adding up all the possible calories in one’s body, contributing to obesity, tooth decay, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular problems.
2. High Levels of Sugar
Packaged drinks contain high levels of sugar derived from high fructose corn syrup. Low quality sugar jeopardizes our health and lifestyle and our bodies reject such interferences. Sugar is an inhibitor of the absorption of both vitamins and minerals. Consuming these sugars in high amounts can load a child’s tummy and suppress their appetite for other foods. Also, excessive consumption of sugar raises the risk of unwanted weight gain, obesity, and type-2 diabetes in kids.
3. Large Amounts of Caffeine
Packaged drinks contain caffeine, which is addictive in nature. It stimulates the central nervous system (CNS), increasing an individual’s productivity rate. Caffeine boosts the energy, stamina, and mood of the consumer to a great extent. Health experts and nutritionists advise young children to avoid caffeine intake, leading to anxiety and insomnia. Major health organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest that children under the age of 12 should not eat or drink any caffeine-containing foods or drinks.
4. Contain Artificial Additives
Another major drawback of packaged drinks is that they contain a large number of artificial additives and coloring agents, which can affect kids’ health in various ways. A well-known artificial sweetener – aspartame, found in packaged drinks, may lead to mental retardation. Many people have reported dizziness, headaches, epileptic-like seizures, and menstrual problems after ingesting aspartame. A well-known yellow food colorant (tartrazine) links to cancer, asthma attacks, nettle rash in children, tumors, chromosomal damage, and hyperactivity.
5. Cause Various Side-Effects
The harmful constituent products of such packaged drinks can result in several side effects. They mainly occur due to the more or less regular consumption of such unhealthy drinks. Common side effects include migraine, emotional disorders, cardiovascular issues, memory loss, and difficulties in breathing.
Possible Health Risks Of Packaged Drinks For Kids
Consuming either of these packaged drinks can raise several short- and long-term health concerns, such as:
1. Anxiety and Insomnia
Experts at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry advise young children under the age of 12 to avoid packaged drinks containing caffeine. High caffeine intake can impact the central nervous system (CNS) and lead to anxiety and insomnia. Besides these, children may also experience adverse effects such as restlessness, jitteriness, and difficulty maintaining attention.
2. Obesity and Type-2 Diabetes
Packaged drinks contain high amounts of sugar or sweeteners, such as high fructose corn syrup. Excessive sugar consumption raises the risk of unwanted weight gain, obesity, and type-2 diabetes. Caffeine can further exacerbate these problems as it’s known to reduce insulin sensitivity in a dose-dependent manner, meaning the higher the caffeine intake, the more the dip in insulin sensitivity.
3. Appetite Suppression
Packaged drinks contain significant amounts of sugar. Sugar forms like Glucose, high fructose corn syrup, and sucrose come in these drinks. Consuming these sugars in high doses can make a child feel full and suppress their appetite for other foods. Also, the high amounts of caffeine in packaged drinks can stimulate the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), causing enhanced satiety and hunger suppression.
4. Dental Cavities
Packaged drinks have a low pH and high sugar content. These factors cause enamel erosion, leading to tooth decay in kids. Hence, children who consume such drinks should brush their teeth within half an hour after consuming them.
5. Bone Loss
Children require optimum levels of calcium for proper growth and development. Consumption of high amounts of caffeine leads to lower calcium absorption (bioavailability) and increased calcium excretion, contributing to bone loss. Hence, packaged drinks aren’t a good choice for growing kids.
4 Unhealthy Packaged Drinks to Avoid giving to Your Kids
Here are the four unhealthy packaged drinks you should avoid giving to your kids:
1. Caffeinated Drinks
It’s important to restrict your kids from indulging in packaged drinks with a higher amount of caffeine, such as coffee, energy drinks, iced tea, and aerated drinks like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, etc. Caffeine is addictive in nature, and it causes insomnia, anxiety, headaches, fast heart rate, and high blood pressure, which can interfere with a kid’s health.
2. Packaged Aerated Drinks
Aerated drinks come with artificial colors, carbon dioxide to create fizz, and artificial sweeteners. Kids love these fizzy drinks, but they are really bad for their health. They can lead to obesity, cardiovascular diseases, dental cavities, and cancer. Carbonated drinks can leach calcium from bones and cause osteoporosis from a young age.
3. Sugary Beverages
Tasty beverages available in the markets, such as pre-packaged juices, health drinks, and iced tea, are loaded with high amounts of sugar to enhance their taste and shelf-life. Sugar is highly addictive, and kids can crave sugary foods all the time, which might result in obesity, type-2 diabetes, and cardiovascular issues.
4. Packaged Sports Drinks
Young children are advised to avoid consuming sports drinks, energy drinks, and protein shakes. These drinks are designed to provide instant energy and boost the metabolism of people who are into rigorous sports activities. Unless they are not into any athletic activity, indulging in secondary sources of nutrients can cause more harm to their health than good. Kids are advised to consume all kinds of fruits and vegetables to meet their nutritional requirements.
Conclusion: Packaged Drinks are a strict No-No!
Kids indulge in a lot of activities, and their body loses water faster, which increases the requirement of keeping them hydrated. Drinking enough water is essential, but kids don’t feel attracted to drinking enough water. Most children have a sweet tooth and are prone to asking for sugary beverages. Although it’s perfectly acceptable for children to enjoy a sweetened drink occasionally, they should not consume sugary beverages regularly.
You can offer your children a wide array of healthy drinks when they’re thirsty. You can try infusing water with fresh fruits and herbs to provide fun colors and flavors without adding sugar and calories. Homemade smoothies are another excellent way to increase your child’s consumption of fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods. Since smoothies are high in calories, offer them as a snack or alongside a small meal. Even though 100% fruit juice provides important vitamins and minerals, intake should be limited to the recommended amounts for children, and whole fruit should always be offered over fruit juice.
While getting your child to eat nutritious foods can be challenging, finding healthy beverages can be difficult. But swapping their favorite sweetened beverage for a healthier option is the right thing you’ll do for your child’s health!