The researchers looked at consumption of sodas and noncarbonated flavored and sports beverages and their association with eating unhealthy foods like sugary desserts, fried meats and fried snacks like chips and French fries. They also looked at how these drinks were associated with consumption of healthy foods like vegetables, fruit and milk.
In addition, they examined the association of these drinks with physical activity and participation in sports and also with sedentary activities, such as watching TV, using the computer and playing video games.
In this study of 8th and 11th grade students in Texas, drinking sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with unhealthy diet and physical activity behaviors like consuming fried meats and chips, Ranjit said. Kids who drank sugar-sweetened beverages, including sports drinks, were more likely to engage in sedentary behaviors like watching TV, using the computer and playing video games. Those who drank soda were also less likely to participate in organized sports, school PE or vigorous physical activity, and to drink less milk and eat less fruits and vegetables than those who did not.
"However, the most interesting finding was that students who drink flavored and sports beverages such as punch, Koolaid and Gatorade are also more likely to engage in higher levels of physical activity as well as consume fruits, vegetables and milk. This association was not seen with children who drink regular soda," she said.
Samantha Heller, a dietitian, nutritionist, exercise physiologist and clinical nutrition coordinator at the Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital, in Derby, Conn., commented that "there is confusion among kids and adults as to when consuming sweetened beverages is appropriate."
"Sports drinks, for example, are important for young athletes who are training or competing at intense levels or exercising in t
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