We know that water is very important for children as they are very active and tend to sweat a lot especially in this hot climate. The Malaysian Dietary Guideline recommends that children between two to six years should have four to six glasses of water everyday. There are many different types of beverages in the market targeting mainly at children. Making sure that your child consumes enough fluid is important, but we must also ensure that the child consumes the right type of fluids.
In general, all packaged beverages contain added sugar, even those marketed for specific health benefits, unless stated otherwise. In addition, many of the beverages contain very limited nutrients but contain many chemicals such as food additives and colourings. These beverages would not only spoil your child’s teeth but also serve as empty calories. Giving the sweetened beverages to a child would only make him/ her get addicted to sweets, which is a habit that leads to excessive calorie intake. In the long run, this will lead to childhood obesity.
Let’s have look at the sugar content of various popular drinks in the market:
|Drinks (per 250 ml)||Sugar content (teaspoons)|
|Instant cereal drinks|
|Chocolate milk drink|
So, how do you make sure that you choose the right beverages for your child? Read the food label. Look for the sugar content in each drink and make comparisons. If your child does not have weight problems, one sweetened beverage per day as a part of balanced diet is acceptable.
Obesity is a complex problem and no single food or beverage would lead to obesity on itself. But, if your child has the tendency to gain weight or is already having weight problems, it is best to keep the sweet beverages away. If your child is already addicted to sweet beverages and refuses to drink other beverages, put in some patience into teaching them about the disadvantages of sweet beverages. It might take some time, because getting the child to change does not happen overnight.