Are Teens Drinking Healthier Beverages in 2016?
Is soda drinking among teens becoming less popular? According to a recent article, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows teens are increasingly turning down soft drinks. Since we know sugar-sweetened beverages are the biggest contributor to added sugars in American diets, the decline in soda consumption to a 30-year low would be viewed by most as a move in the right direction.
But are teens drinking healthier beverages in the place of soda? We don’t know yet, but can say for certain they are drinking even less of the nutrition they need for long-term bone health. The same survey reveals a slight decrease between 2013 and 2015 (from 12.5 percent to 10.2 percent) in teens getting the recommended three glasses of milk a day. There was also a slight increase (from 19.4 percent to 21.5 percent) in the same time period of students who did not drink any milk in the seven days before the survey.
Whether or not teens will replace soda with healthier options remains to be seen. Americans are increasingly preoccupied with foods ‘free’ of certain qualities or ingredients and less focused on bridging shortfalls in calcium, vitamin D, potassium and fiber—all identified by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as nutrients of concern. As we help teens rethink their drink, let’s remember pouring a glass of real dairy milk is a simple adjustment teens and their families can make to maximize their health now and into the future.
Mickela Mitchell, MS, RDN, LDN