For years, experts have given many reasons why kids should not drink soda but, despite this fact, many kids, perhaps alarmingly so, routinely indulge in this sticky, sweet substance. And this is not surprising. Everywhere we turn in society, kids are exposed to soda in grocery stores, restaurants and vending machines. You'd be hard-pressed to find kids who do not at least know what soda is, even if their parents don't let them have it and/or they've never tried it.

Soda is a beverage many kids tend to love once their buds catch a taste of this sugary beverage. The best way to encourage kids not to drink soda is not to expose them to it at a young age. Even "just a taste" of soda to developing palates can lead to trouble. Unfortunately, unless a kid is adverse to the carbonation, chances are they'll quickly develop a taste for the sweetness in sodas.

Child dipping finger in cup
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5 Top Reasons Why Kids Should Not Drink Soda

1. No Nutritional Value

Soda contains absolutely no useful levels of nutrition. Basically, soda is a liquid beverage full of empty calories that do not offer any benefits to growing children. If anything, in a sense this can deplete their nutritional health because if kids are drinking soda, this means they are likely drinking less of the healthier beverage options that contain vitamins and calcium. They may also be eating less food because their bellies are filled with a whole lot of empty calories. Calories that eventually, over time, can lead to childhood obesity and/or other health problems.  A November 2017 report indicated that soda may be the culprit for the boom in childhood diabetes. Not to mention, a 2012 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found nearly one quarter of kids in the United States between the ages of 12 and 19 have either Type 2 diabetes or are pre-diabetic. [9]

2. Weight Gain

Empty calories are going to lead to weight gain for those kids who aren't as active. This may not be such an issue for toddlers, preschoolers or younger children who are pretty active, but when kids hit the tween and teen ages, drinking too much sugar (including its GMO-laden corn syrups and other artificial sweeteners) can become problematic. According to Harvard's School of Public Health, "two out of three adults and one out of three children in the United States are overweight or obese." Sugary drinks are considered to be one of the major contributors of early obesity. [2]

Despite the high level of activity, however, younger children could be at risk too. A study conducted in 2013 by the University of Virginia School of Medicine concluded preschool children who routinely drink sugary beverages are prone to become overweight. [7] Children aged 2 to 5 years of age who have one sugar-sweetened drink a day (defined as 8 ounces) are 43 percent more likely to be obese than other children their age that rarely consumed those drinks.  The study looked at 9,600 preschoolers.

"We can't say for sure that cutting out sugar-sweetened beverages would prevent excess weight gain," said lead researcher Dr. Mark DeBoer, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. "[But] there are healthy sources of calories, and there are less healthy sources. Sugar-sweetened beverages don't have other nutritional benefits." [8]

 Experts agree there are multiple causes of obesity, but that beverages sweetened with sugar stand out as a main contributor. Although, many pediatricians also recommend scaling back on 100 percent fruit juices too.

3. Tooth Decay

The levels of sugar contained in a single serving of soda are staggering and kids that drink soda on a daily basis are going to have all that sugar constantly coating their teeth. Eventually, this could contribute to tooth decay because of the tendency of soda to dissolve tooth enamel.

dental work
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4. Caffeine intake

While it's true many sodas do not contain caffeine, many of the popular brands do. Most kids are active enough without needing a boost of caffeine to add to an already energetic child. Drinking traces or excessive amounts of caffeine can contribute to hyperactivity.

In an article published by the Washington Post in August 2015, it was cited the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a whopping 73 percent of young Americans (aged 2 to 22) consume caffeine regularly. Granted, the amount of caffeine coming from soda dropped from 63 percent in 1999-2000 to 39 percent in 2009-2010 (the most recent survey), but it's still a lot of caffeine drinking. [4]

Experts are also concerned those sodas have been replaced by caffeine-packed energy drinks and fancy sweet-tasting coffees for teens. Both of which can contain even higher levels of caffeine than sodas. Additionally, scientists are still actively studying the long-term effects of caffeine on developing kids. These studies are beginning to find caffeine, even in low doses, has negative cardiovascular effects on kids. [5]  Caffeine is found to increase heart rate and blood pressure in children. It also interrupts sleep patterns, worsen stomach problems, increase moodiness and have an effect on anxiety levels.

5. Screws Up Taste Preferences

When kids become habitual soda drinkers, they are more than likely to eventually become routine adult soda drinkers which can lead to other health problems, including lowered calcium and other vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Not exposing children to the taste at a young age is a good idea because once those little taste buds experience the sweetness of soda's sugar, it can become much harder to deter them later on.

If kids are given alternate choices during the younger formative years (preferably good ol' fashioned water), chances are higher they'll turn to different beverage options when they become old enough to make their own drink choices.

Healthy happy kids
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Healthy kids are happy kids

Soda and children has long been a source of conflict in society. For a while, soda companies were even putting soda machines in schools, and schools willingly accepted them because it helped increase their spending budgets. However, over time, this caused backlash with health advocates and, as a result, this avenue of product distribution became far less popular. Fast-forward to 2018 and this practice has gone out of vogue and many schools stopped this practice. In the United States, even the White House has gotten involved with getting junk foods out of the schools with First Lady Michelle Obama making a big push for this movement in recent years. [3] The U.S. government even got involved by placing a criteria which was put into place in 2014-15 requiring schools to meet certain nutritional standards in any food sold on the premises; this includes vending machines. [10]

As an alternative, soda manufacturers tend to turn to other places, such as malls, which are still a good venue for snagging young people as consumers - with the potential they'll eventually become loyal customers.

Early consumption of soft drinks can eventually lead to lifelong poor dietary habits if parents aren't careful with their children's intake of soda. Heck, it is a problem for adults, why would we want to start a new generation of soda drinkers? Especially in the age of "Supersize" drinks (although based on recent observations in stores, some soda companies are now offering smaller portioned bottles and cans as options).

Maybe a little soda now and then won't harm, after all moderation is key. But if there is no value in the drink anyway besides a sugar high that can eventually lead to other health problems, why bother?

After all, there are many benefits to kissing sugar goodbye.