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Why Kids Need More Water

Kids who trade soda for water reduce calorie consumption.

Nutrition professionals have long known that the beverages our youth choose to drink can hugely affect their diet quality and health. Three new studies drive home the point that the best option comes from the faucet.

  • Among more than 7,000 children and teens in the U.S., those who drank low-calorie sweetened drinks, high-sugar beverages or both consumed 196, 312 and 450 more calories per day, respectively, than those who mostly drank water, researchers reported in Pediatric Obesity. So, calorie-reduced sweetened drinks like diet soda made with artificial sweeteners don’t necessarily slash calorie intake in youth as much as hoped.


  • Pennsylvania State University researchers discovered that children and adolescents who shy away from drinking water consume, on average, 4.5% more calories from sweetened beverages (such as juice, sodas and sports drinks) and take in an extra 93 calories daily, compared with those who drink water.


  • Based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2003 and 2016, daily energy drink consumption increased from 0.2% to 1.4% among teens and from 0.5% to 5.5% among young adults, as reported in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Beyond the sugar deluge these drinks can provide, researchers found a significantly higher total caffeine intake among energy drink users, which can lead to problems like poor sleep.
Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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