Soda Consumption and Childhood Obesity

By Paddy Downey
NTR 150: 08/07/09
The amount of sugary soda drink’s that today’s generation of children consume has more then doubled in the last 20 years compared to previous generations. The increased amount of soda has not only been proven to have direct correlation with childhood obesity but also tooth decay, erosion of tooth enamel and diets depleted of vital nutrients that can lead to osteoporosis and type 2 Diabetes. Drinking one 20-ounce bottle of soda daily for a year can lead to a 25-pound weight gain; and the average teen drinks 750 cans of soda yearly.

In recent study done by the AAHPERD National Convention of Exposition, 221 third grade physical education students were surveyed to explore the connection between soda consumption and childhood obesity. Of the group of 221 third grade physical education students, based on body mass index (BMI) scores:

87 were identified as overweight,
58 were identified as at-risk, and
76 were identified as healthy.

The test showed a significant difference in soda consumption between children identified as overweight and those identified as healthy.

-Of the students identified as overweight:
70 consumed sweetened soda
9 consumed diet soda and
8 consumed no sodas.
- Of the students identified as At-risk:
24 consumed sweetened soda
13 consumed diet soda
21 consumed no sodas.
-Of the students identified as healthy:
9 consumed sweetened soda
29 consumed diet soda
38 consumed no sodas

This Study shows direct correlation of childhood obesity with increased consumption of soda. One 20oz bottle contains 250 calories’ equivalent to 16 teaspoons of sugar, that combined with other sugar sweetened foods and drinks can increase a child’s risk of obesity up to 60%. Below is a YouTube video that translates sugar calories from soda into physical amounts of sugar that one might ingest daily without even realizing it:
Children who habitually drink soda not only increase their daily calorie intake but also decrease the amount of essential nutrients they receive, ie. soda takes place of milk therefore replacing essential calcium needed for growing bones.

Here are some things you can do to make sure your child consume less sugary soda and more nutritious beverages.
  • Read labels, how many servings are in a bottle and how many grams of sugar are there in a serving. Here is the FDA website for better understanding reading food labels,
  • Also check with your child’s schools, do they have vending machines filled with soda, if so do they have healthy alternatives such as bottled water. Some schools today have entered into contracts with cola companies that provide financial incentive to sell more soda. Listed in references is The Center for Public Free Information and a link to Seattle school district's existing contracts with Cola companies.
Most important of all, provide healthy meals together with drinks low in refined sugar or without sugar for your kids, such as water, milk, and 100% fruit juice drinks. This will not only help your child fulfill necessary nutrient intakes for healthy development but provide a strong foundation only healthy eating and drinking habits in the future for when they venture out on there own.


AAHPERD Nation Convention of Exposition


FDA US Food and Drug Administration

Center for Public Free Information:

More pages