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To the Editor:

Based on U.S. Department of Agriculture data from the Continuing Survey of Food Intake of Individuals (CSFII) from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, milk consumption has declined by 37.5% in teenaged boys and 30.0% in girls; soda consumption has doubled over the same period so that teens are now drinking twice as many ounces of soda per day as they do milk. The recently published Feeding Infants and Toddlers Survey (FITS) data,1,2 suggest that children are drinking soda as early as 7 months of age. Thus, it is illuminating to consider the consequences of soda consumption from the developmental perspective because taste preferences are determined very early in life. The preference for sweet is innate—at least it is clearly present at birth and remains heightened throughout childhood.3,4 Therefore, when children are presented with sweetened sodas, they are essentially programmed to like them. The “solution” suggested by Fitzpatrick and Heaney in their editorial appearing in the September 2003 issue of the JBMR—that you can have your soda as long as you drink your milk—may have made sense in the 1950s, when cola was packaged in 6.5-oz bottles, and children rarely had access to soda. Children are less active today (more television, computers, and video games), and their calorie needs are reduced as a consequence. Given the declining activity levels of children and their overconsumption of calories, as evidenced by skyrocketing rates of pediatric obesity, children cannot afford to drink both—at least not routinely as they now do. The imperative is to ensure that the calories children do consume are accompanied by the nutrients they need5 to grow normally and to sustain good health. That is why we are alarmed by the data showing that soda consumption is increasing and milk consumption is decreasing and dismayed by the message of the editorial—that kids can have their milk and soda too.

References

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  2. References
  • 1
    Devaney B, Ziegler P, Pac S, Karwe V, Barr SI 2004 Nutrient intakes of infants and toddlers. J Am Diet Assoc 104:S14S21.
  • 2
    Skinner JD, Ziegler P, Ponza M 2004 Transitions in infants' and toddlers' beverage patterns. J Am Diet Assoc 104:S45S50.
  • 3
    Desor JA, Marrler O, Turner RE 1977 Preferences for sweet in humans: Infants, children, and adults. In: WeiffenbachJM (ed.) Taste and Development: The Genesis of Sweet Preference. US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, USA, pp. 161172.
  • 4
    Liem DG, Mennella JA 2002 Sweet and sour preferences during childhood: Role of early experiences. Dev Psychobiol 41:388395.
  • 5
    Ballew C, Kucster S, Gillespie C 2000 Beverage choices affect adequacy of children's nutrient intakes. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 154:11481152.