Too many soft drinks may be hazardous

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Teen-age girls beware:

your manic passion for soft drinks may catch up with you later in life.

Teen-age girls who consume soft drinks at the expense of milk and other calcium-rich products may increase their risk of osteoporosis, a painful, debilitating bone disease that affects millions of older women.

Email newsletter signup

Some teen-agers, boys and girls alike, are consuming up to five cans of soda every day.

And while sodas have calories, they have no other nutritional value.

For an increasing number of young people, soft drinks are being substituted for more nutritious beverages such as milk.

And while it's still possible for youngsters to compensate for this by consuming other calcium-rich foods, most don't.

If a teen is consuming roughly 2,000 calories a day, which includes five sodas, between 30 and 40 percent of their calories are coming from soft drinks.

If they are not going to drink milk, the next best things are the dark, green leafy vegetables, such as turnip greens, romaine lettuce, and broccoli.

But given young people's disdain for these foods, it's very unlikely they will start eating them now.

While many parents discourage kids from eating too much of the perennial favorites associated with adolescence n cheese hamburgers and pizzas n consuming these foods in moderation may actually contribute to the formation of bone mass.

Both of these foods are known for their high levels of saturated fats, however, both are made with cheese.

Therefore, they won't do much to enhance teens' cardiovascular health, but it is likely that they would reduce teen' risk of bone loss.

If parents can't persuade kids to forgo soft drinks or to eat more calcium-rich foods, wouldn't the next-best thing be calcium-enriched soft drinks?

Yes and no.

While the process has been tried, the calcium enrichment changes both the taste and appearance of soft drinks n so much so that most people aren't willing to buy them.