Parents who purchase fruit punches and sports drinks that claim to have health benefits may want to think again, the findings of a new study suggest.
Researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health found that the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has risen significantly over the past ten years, raising concerns about how this trend is affecting obesity levels in the US.
The team said that kids who consume sugary drinks take in an average of 356 extra calories each day, which can affect both weight gain and energy levels.
Dr Steven Gortmaker, co-author of the study, warned: "Parents can be easily misled by the labels on fruit punch and sports drink bottles because they make these sugar-sweetened beverages seem essential for good health."
Instead, he added, they are "nothing more than different forms of sugar water". The data indicates that consumption of sports drinks among children has trebled over the past decade.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children up to six years old should drink no more than six ounces of fruit juice per day, while those aged seven to 18 should not consumer more than 12 ounces.