Why Kids Shouldn't Drink Soda

children drinking soda. GJI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images/Getty Images

The big soda companies recently received a warm embrace from former President Bill Clinton for indicating that they would try to do something to reduce the contributions their products make to our intake of sugar and calories over the next ten years.

That’s all well and good, but if you have an 8-year-old child, they will be an adult when that decade lapses. Are you inclined to wait?

The soda companies should do something.

  But on the other hand, do we really need them to defend us and our children from the perils of their products?  Who really needs to drink soda?

Of course, if you are accustomed to drinking soda, you might find it hard to stop.  I think that problem is readily addressable.  But our focus here is on children, and childhood obesity.  In childhood, taste preference is still developing, and very malleable.  The taste buds of our children will learn to love the foods, and beverages, they’re with.  And the foods and beverages they are with- are up to us.

No child needs soda.  At best, soft drinks are a load of sugar and empty calories that can displace more nutritious choices, reducing the overall quality of the diet.  At worst, and more likely, they simply add that sugar and those calories to the diet- contributing directly to weight gain and ill health.  Recent evidence suggests that diet sodas may impose some insidious harms, so the chemical alternatives to sugars are no bargain, either.

No child needs soda.  For thirst, water is far better, often free, and almost always less expensive.  For sustenance, milk or juice would be better.  For nutritional quality- well, just about anything is better. 

No child needs soda.  And so no parent needs to wait for Big Soda to fix the perils of their products for us.

  We can fix it for ourselves- by keeping their products, and the attendant perils, out of our refrigerators.