My husband and I drink a lot of cola, and my 4-year-old has started drinking it, too. My mother tells me that soda can damage kids’ health. We don’t see the problem; at least he gets plenty of fluids this way. Can you explain why we should stop giving it to him?
Carbonated drinks, like colas, are basically candy in a bottle, and there are a few reasons why children shouldn’t drink them. First of all, they contain no nutrients and don’t contribute to the child’s daily nutrition needs. They also fill the stomach and temporarily satisfy hunger, possibly keeping your son from eating a proper meal.
Diet soda is not appropriate for children because the aspartame used to sweeten it is an amino acid derivative that in rare cases can cause individuals to have seizures.
However, non-diet soda is loaded with sugar. Fill a soda bottle to the halfway mark with table sugar and you have the approximate sugar content for a single soda. It actually encourages bad snacking habits because it raises the blood glucose levels rapidly and drop them just as fast, causing the body to look for something to raise them up again quickly, usually either processed snacks or another soda.
Obviously, this process is a trigger for obesity, either by the intake of processed, fat-laden snack food or more sugary drinks. This behaviour can also lead to sugar addiction in both children and adults. And soda, both diet and full sugar, does not actually quench thirst but actually triggers the need for more.
Cola in particular has high levels of caffeine, which can have a negative effect on your son’s behaviour. If all of this isn’t bad enough, the carbonation will eventually damage the enamel on his teeth—even those permanent teeth developing under the gums.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.