Friday, 16 August 2013 12:48

Different Types of Drinks and the Benefits for Children

Written by 
Rate this item
(2 votes)

Different Types of Drinks and the Benefits for Children




Fluids are an essential nutrient for life for all living beings including children. Fluids assist with digestion, absorption and transportation of nutrients as well as the elimination of wastes. Fluids also fill the spaces in between cells and helps form structures of large molecules such as protein and glycogen (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2003).


A balance between fluid intake and output is essential for effective body function and for the maintenance of good health. In warmer climates, children are at risk of dehydration if they don’t consume enough fluids on a daily basis. A child’s needs are best met by drinking water and milk, although fruit juice in small quantities is good and can provide valuable nutrients (Kleiner, 1999). It is important though that children avoid excessive quantities of fruit juice and soft drinks as they have high sugar and energy content which may displace other nutrients in the diet (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2003).


This article will outline a number of beverage types and their importance for the nutritional health of children and adolescence.




About 60% of the human body is comprised of water. The human body needs 2.5 litres of water every day to replenish water loss (Kleiner, 1999). Kleiner (1999) notes that water lost from the lungs and skin is responsible for half of the total water turnover. Faeces and urine waste is responsible for the other portion of loss. If children don’t replenish their daily losses of water, they increase their risk of dehydration.


Dehydration occurs when 1-2% of your overall body weight is displaced through fluid loss (Meyer, Bay-Or, Salsberg, Passe, 1994). The National Health and Medical Research Council (2003) note, that infants are susceptible to dehydration because of the high proportion of their body weight that is water, the high rate of turnover as well as their poor thirst mechanism. Children who are physically active are also more prone to dehydration because they have a relatively low circulating blood volume and a poor thirst mechanism (Watson, 1995). Dehydration has been linked to a number of health outcomes including kidney stones, urinary tract and colon cancer as well as an increased risk of childhood obesity (Watson, 1995).


The Sports Medicine of Australia (1997) recommend that children need to consume between 150-200 millilitres (and adolescents 300-400 ml) of fluid 45 mins before exercising and 75-100ml (and adolescents 150-200ml) each 20 minutes whilst exercising. 




Milk has many nutritional benefits. It is an excellent source of calcium, protein and vitamin B (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2003). Milk is also an important nutrient for bone growth and development during adolescent years.


During the first years of life, infant formula should be given as the main source of milk. It is not recommended that cow’s milk be given to infants during this period (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2003). The Department of Health and Family Services (1998) note that skim milk and reduced fat milk should not be given to children under the age of 2 because this age bracket requires fats in their foods which are not delivered in these milk options. They note that between the age of 2 and 5 there is a gradual reduction in energy requirements from fats so reduced fat milks are suitable (Department of Family Services, 1998).


It is recommended that children and adolescents consume 2-3 servings of dairy products per day. 


Soft Drinks


Soft drinks have very little nutritional value. They contain large amounts of sugar and provide immediate hits of energy (Jacobson, 1998). Studies are showing that the increase of soft drink consumption amongst children is on the rise. In the United States it is believed that consumption levels of soft drink amongst the 12-19 year old female bracket has doubled whereas the males have tripled (Jacobson, 1998).


Wyshak and Frisch (2000) note that cola consumption has been linked to bone fractures in teenage girls due to the high levels of phosphoric acid. Caffeine in cola soft drinks have also been linked to calcium leakage from bones into the body.


A study by Harnack et al (1999) found that energy intake was positively associated with carbonated soft drinks in children and adolescents which have implications for childhood obesity. Jacobson (1998) note that obesity rates, have risen in conjunction with the increase in soft drink consumption. A two-year study of 548 school children of diverse ethnic backgrounds found a direct correlation between increased soft drink consumption and obesity.


Fruit Juices


Fruit juices have nutrients that are important for young children. Fruit juices provide vitamin C and folate as well as natural sugars which are useful for energy (Jocobson, 1998). The concern with some fruit juices is the amount of sugar present which can lead to excessive weight gain and dental erosion.


The main carbohydrates present in fruit juices are fructose, glucose and sorbitol. Juices that have a good mix of these sugars provide adequate carbohydrate absorption. If though sorbitol is not present in the fruit juice, there is a risk of malabsorption of nutrients and carbohydrates (Nobigrot, Chasalow, Lifshitz, 1997).  

Nobigrot et al (1997) note that excessive amounts of fruit juice have also been associated with poor appetite, poor weight gain and loose stools. A study in 1994 supports this noting that large intakes of apple juice – 12-30 ounces per day (350ml-850ml) may contribute to malabsorption of carbohydrates or sugars, poor weight gain and poor appetite which can adversely affect growth (Nobigrot et al, 1997). Dennison et al (1997 pp15-22) support this noting that “excessive fruit juice consumption has been linked to obesity in toddlers: 2 year-olds consuming excessive amounts of fruit juice (more than 350ml/day) were shown to have a higher energy intake, which was associated with excessive weight gain”.


The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends that children and adolescents consume two serve daily from the fruit group. Half a cup of juice supplies one serve from this group (The Department of Health and Families Services, 1998).


Adequate fluid consumption is an important component of a healthy diet for children. Water is the most important beverage as it can hydrate the body without adding additional energy to the diet. Milk, fruit juice and low energy soft drinks can add variety and in some cases (eg milk and juices) add valuable nutrients to the diet. It should be noted though that these beverages should only be consumed in moderation as they have health implications if drank above the daily recommendations.









Dennison, B., Rockwell, H.L., Baker, S.L. Excess fruit juice consumption by preschool aged children in association with short stature and obesity. Paediatrics 1997;99(1):15-22.


Jacobson, M. F. Liquid Candy: How soft drinks are harming Americans health. Washington DC: Centre for Science in the Public Interest, 1998.


Kleiner, S.M. Water: an essential but overlooked nutrient: JADA 1999:99(2):200-6.


Meyer, F. and Bay-Or, O. and Salsberg, A. And Passe, D. Hypo hydration during exercise in children: effect on thirst, drink preferences and rehydration. International Journal of Sport and Nutrition 1994: 4: 22-35.


National Health and Medical Research Council (2003). Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents in Australia: Commonwealth of Australia


Nobigrot, T, Chasalow,F.I., Lifshitz, M.D. Carbohydrate absorption from one serving of fruit in young children: age and carbohydrate composition effects. Journal American College Nutrition 1997: 16 (2): 152-158.


Sports Medicine Australia. Safety guidelines for children in sport and recreation. Canberra: Sports Medicine Australia, 1997.


The Department of Health and Families Services. The Australian guide to healthy eating. Canberra. DHFS. 1998


Watson, A.S. Children in Sport. In Bloomfield J., Fricker, P.A, Fitch, K.D. eds. Science and Medicine in Sport, 2nd edn. Melbourne: Blackwell Science, 1995: 497.


Wyshak, G. And Frisch, R. E. Carbonated beverages, dietary calcium, the dietary calcium/phosphorous ratio, and bone fractures in girls and boys, Journal Adolescence Health 1994:15:210-215.

Read 4183 times

Leave a comment