Overweight and obesity in children due to incorrect drinking habits

In our modern consumer society, food and drink are in abundance. Children benefit from this, but are also victims of the large, often unhealthy, supply. Sugary drinks in particular are fattening. What can you do about that as sensible educators? Because more and more children are dealing with unhealthy obesity. And obesity in children can result in cardiovascular disease later in life and also increases the risk of diabetes.

When happiness was common

In the 1950s, as a small child you were lucky if you received a glass of lemonade once a week, usually made from lemonade syrup and water. Ready-made soft drinks were an unaffordable luxury that you only had a few times a year, for example during holidays when you received a bottle of Seven-Up or Coke. When you were thirsty as a child you were basically sent to the water tap in the kitchen. Today we should also give our children and grandchildren healthy water more often. Not only to prevent them from getting their way in everything, but also from a health perspective. Because children are getting fatter because they consume too many sugary drinks.

Healthy thirst quenchers for children

During the first months of its life, a baby drinks only milk, preferably breast milk. Fortunately, you don’t have to think about what the best food or drink is for your baby. Then comes the period when your little one also wants to drink something else. But what is the right choice? Will it be soft drinks, water or fruit juice. And what is the effect of your choice on the health of the little one.

Thick juice

Many educators choose concentrated juice as a drink for their babies and that is also the choice at many daycare centers and childcare centers. Thick juice is actually a collective name for concentrated pure fruit juice to which you only have to add water to make it drinkable. Because it is sweet, children always like thick juice with water. But for every glass of juice a child drinks, he also ingests 10 grams of sugar. That’s a lot, because a glass of cola or orange juice contains 20 grams of sugar. Children in the Netherlands consume on average about 70 grams of sugar through all kinds of drinks, and that is wrong for children who are already overweight. It is not always clear to what extent overweight children have gained weight due to high-fat juice, fatty foods, or lack of exercise.

Liquid sugar

In October 2013, Mrs Janne de Ruyter calculated how many children ultimately gain weight due to the liquid sugars in drinks. She compared children who drank a drink with 26 grams of sugar every day with children who consumed drinks with artificial calorie-free sweeteners such as Aspartame and Stevia. Both the sweetened drinks and the artificially sweetened drinks were equally tasty by the children.

In the group of “sugar-free children” their weight increased by an average of 6.35 kg after 1.5 years, while the group that drank one glass of sugary drink gained 7.37 kg. Conclusion: by not giving the children a glass of sugary drinks every day, they appeared to have lost one kilogram in weight after 1.5 years.

Diet drinks are not a solution

Diet drinks are not a solution because they are bad for the teeth. The malic or citric acid present in these drinks dissolves the enamel, making cavities more likely to form in the teeth. Water is actually the healthiest thirst quencher for children, according to researcher De Ruyter. Less chance of being overweight, less tooth decay and a smaller risk of chronic conditions.

Tips to teach your child to drink water

Of course, children do not immediately like water if they have previously only drunk sweet drinks. But it is easy to learn:

  • Dilute the lemonade or concentrated juice with more and more water.
  • Let the child drink the water-based drink from a nice cup with a nice straw.
  • As an educator, set a good example.
  • Set a drinking rule, e.g. after 2 x water, 1 x lemonade.
  • Be patient and, especially if you are very thirsty, always send the child to the tap.