Young Girls Who Drink Soda Are Less Healthy as Adolescents, Study Shows

Filed under: Nutrition: Health, Diet & Fitness, Health & Safety: Big Kids, Health & Safety: Tweens, Nutrition: Tweens, Research Reveals: Tweens, Nutrition: Teens, Research Reveals: Teens

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We know soda may not be the most nutritious choice when it comes to beverages, but a recent study shows girls who drink soda as young children have less healthy diets through adolescence than their peers who passed on soft drinks.

Researchers followed 170 girls from the age of 5 to 15, and found that those who drank soda at the age of 5 had higher intakes of sugar and lower intakes of key nutrients than the girls who didn't drink soda, according to an article in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. That remained true for the 10 years of the study.

The girls who drank soda consumed far less milk than the girls who didn't; milk contains all the nutrients the soda drinkers were missing except for fiber. The non-soda drinkers drank more than 10 ounces of milk a day when they were 5, while the soda drinkers drank fewer than seven ounces, the article says.

The girls who didn't drink soda didn't meet all their nutritional requirements either, but overall their diets were healthier than the soda-drinking girls. Researchers didn't draw a distinction between diet soda and regular soda because the soda drinkers drank both, but consumption of diet soda was rare for the 5-year-olds.

Both groups of girls were drinking more soda by the time they were 15, but the early soda drinkers consumed nearly twice as much in adolescence as their counterparts, according to the study.

Researchers measured fiber, protein, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium. Nutritional shortages can have long-term effects: Low calcium intake is associated with increased risk of bone fractures and more added sugar is associated with tooth decay and chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

Related: Chocolate Milk: Nutritional Powerhouse or Treat?

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