Sat, Aug 04, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Parents, teachers hold key to limiting kids' sugary drinks


Children with sugary drinks pose for a photo for the John Tung Foundation, which yesterday released the results of a study showing that children of parents who drink the sweet beverages are likely to imitate their parents' behavior.


Parents and teachers play a key role in whether children develop the habit of consuming sugary beverages that may harm their health, study results released yesterday by the John Tung Foundation showed.

In April and May, the foundation conducted a survey on children's consumption of sugary beverages, said Beryl Hsu (許惠玉), the foundation's chief of nutrition intervention and evaluation.

"Our survey found that children of parents who consume sugary beverages are two times more likely to also develop the habit," the foundation's chief executive Jacob Jou (周逸衡) told a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

The foundation collected more than 1,500 valid samples from children between the ages of four and six, Jou said.

"[Besides parents,] children are more likely to become addicted to sugary drinks if these drinks are easily available at home or in kindergartens," Hsu said.

Consumption of sugary beverages could harm a child's health, she said.

"Consuming sugary beverages could cause diabetes," said Hung Chien-teh (洪建德), a doctor in metabolic diseases at Taipei City Hospital. "I've seen an increase in young diabetes patients in recent years."

Drinking sugary beverages may also cause children to reduce their intake of other food and cause a nutritional imbalance, Hung said.

Jou shared a personal experience with the drinks.

"I used to drink a lot of drinks with a high sugar content -- something like four colas a day, until I had a heart attack a few years ago ? that was caused by too much sugar in my diet," Jou said.

Jou changed his drinking habits and tried to influence his daughter, who also likes to drink cola.

"But when I told her not to drink it, she responded by saying: `You used to drink a lot [of cola] too,'" Jou said. "That's why I want to remind parents not to drink sugary beverages in front of their children."

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