"Our results suggest age differences in the extent of water contributed by different sources to the diets of American children," the study authors wrote. "The quality of food selections reported in association with plain water intake was better than that reported with increasing beverage moisture, and the strength of these associations varied with age," they added.
"Efforts to moderate the consumption of sweetened beverages and promote plain water intake should not only continue to promote plain water for snacks but also should recognize the importance of replacing nonnutritive beverages at meal time with plain water," Kant and Graubard concluded.
As the children got older, consumption of plain water increased while intake of nutritive beverages, such as milk, decreased, the researchers found.
Water makes up 55 to 75 percent of total body weight, said Heller. "We cannot live without water for more than a few days because our bodies cannot store water. Thus, it is essential we replace the water our bodies lose every day."
Heller, a nutritionist and dietitian, advises starting children on water early.
"Give them water instead of sweetened beverages during the day and between meals," she said. To make it more appealing, put sliced cucumbers, oranges, lemons or strawberries in ice water, she suggested.
And if your child is hooked on sodas, she advised transitioning to seltzer or flavored seltzers instead.
For more information on healthful diet, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
SOURCES: Samantha Heller, M.S., R.D., dietitian, nutritionist, exercise physiologist and clinical nutrition coordinator, Center for Cancer Care, Griffin Hospital, Derby, Conn.;
All rights reserved