Children often replace healthy drinks like water or milk with sugary drinks like punch, soda, sports drinks, and fruit drinks. Drinking too many sugar-sweetened drinks, as well as eating sugary foods like candy and cookies, can lead to dental cavities and may increase the risk for overweight, diabetes, and heart disease. In fact, some children are developing type 2 diabetes because of poor diets and overweight.

Help children develop healthy habits by serving water instead of sugary drinks at every snack or meal. Drinks with artificial sweeteners (like “light” or “diet” drinks) are not a healthy alternative, because the long term safety of artificial sweeteners is unknown. You can also teach children and their parents the many different forms sugar can take. High fructose corn syrup, dextrose, sucrose, honey, cane juice, molasses, and malt syrup on ingredient lists all mean one thing: SUGAR!

Fruit juice, even 100% fruit juice, contains as much sugar as soda. Fruit juice is not as healthy as eating whole fruits, which also contain fiber. Try to limit juice servings to 4 ounces of 100% juice.