Two new studies, reported in the journal Appetite, have found that if you want your kids to eat their veggies, you need to serve water -- not sugary soda, juice or sports drinks -- with meals.
In the first study, a group of 3 - 5 year-old kids were offered a snack of carrots and bell peppers, once with Hawaiian Punch to drink, and once with water. On the day the group was given water, they ate more vegetables. In fact, the researchers noticed that even after having just a small amount of a sweetened drink, the kids were pretty much uninterested in eating the vegetables.
In the second study, a group of college kids was asked to rate how well different beverages went with different foods. The students gave water the highest rating with foods like steamed broccoli and raw carrots and celery, and (unsurprisingly) they rated colas as the best beverages to go with foods like pizza and French fries. The researchers concluded that when you're drinking colas, you don't think about eating vegetables—you think about eating stuff like pizza and fries.
All of this adds up to pretty conclusive evidence that if you want your kids to eat their veggies, you should serve them water, not colas. In fact, you should probably skip the soda altogether, as The New York Times reports that sugary soft drinks are the number one source of calories in the American diet. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has just announced a planned ban on sugary drinks in the city.
And what about juice? Well, when you're talking about sugar, juice—even 100% juice—loses, as most 100 percent juice drinks have more sugar than Coca-Cola, Hawaiian Punch or Capri-Sun.
It turns out, the very best thing for kids (and probably adults) to drink, is water, followed by plain milk.