Teens Drink Healthy, but Guzzle Soda, Too

VIDEO: Parents urged to avoid giving sports and energy drinks to their kids.
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Although high school students report drinking plenty of water, milk, and real fruit juice, they still gulp down more sugar-sweetened beverages than is probably good for them, CDC researchers found.

Nearly three-quarters (72.4 percent) of the teens who responded to a national survey said they drank at least one glass of water a day over the preceding seven days, Nancy Brener of the CDC and colleagues reported in the June 17 issue of Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report.

Among the 11,429 survey respondents, 42 percent had at least one glass of milk a day, and 30.2 percent drank 100 percent fruit juice.

"These are healthful beverages, and milk and 100 percent fruit juice are sources of key nutrients," Brener and colleagues wrote.

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But, 24.3 percent of the teens reported having a soda every day, 16.1 percent said they had a sports drink daily, and 16.9 percent said they drank another type of sugar-sweetened beverage every day.

For their study, the researchers assessed data from the National Youth Physical Activity and Nutrition Study (NYPANS), a school-based survey among a nationally representative sample of teens in grades 9 through 12.

Among the respondents, boys were more likely report drinking milk and whole fruit juices than girls, and whites were more likely than blacks and Hispanics to have water and milk every day -- although whites were less likely than the others to drink 100 percent fruit juice every day.

Boys and blacks were also more likely to drink soda and sports drinks than girls and white or Hispanic teens. Smaller percentages of students reported drinking more than one sugary drink a day: 15.6 percent had at least two cans of soda per day, 9.2 percent had at least two sports drinks, and 9.8 percent had two or more helpings of other sugar-sweetened beverages daily.

Coffee and tea were further down the consumption ladder -- just 14.8 percent of students reported drinking these hot beverages at least once a day.

Diet drinks were even less popular, with 7.1 percent reporting that they drank diet soda every day.

And energy drinks were less popular still, with just 5 percent of respondents saying they drank them every day. Brener and colleagues noted that the study was limited by its reliance on self-reported data, and is not generalizable beyond children who attend public or private high schools.

They also cautioned that their report shows a lower intake of sugary drinks and a higher consumption of whole fruit juice than other data, particularly those from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Still, they said schools and parents alike should limit intake of sugar-sweetened drinks among all teens "while ensuring their access to more healthful beverages."

They also called for targeted efforts to reduce consumption among males and black teens, since intake of soda and sports drinks was highest among those groups.

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