More than 50 percent of high- school students frequently drink sugar-sweetened beverages, with about 50 percent of high-school boys drinking almost one cup per day, surveys by the Department of Health’s Bureau of Health Promotion show.
In hot weather, more students buy sugar-sweetened beverages, but the bureau warned that drinking too many of these beverages may have negative health effects and lead to weight gain.
Two surveys on drinking habits were conducted by the bureau — one with 5,557 junior-high students nationwide in 2010, and another last year with 4,780 high-school, vocational school and five-year junior college students from across the country.
The percentage of high-school students who often drink sugar-sweetened beverages has increased, Community Health Division Director Chen Yen-fang (陳延芳) said.
“More than 50 percent of junior-high school students and more than 60 percent of senior-high school students drank sugar-sweetened beverages more than four days per week,” Chen said.
The survey results from last year showed that 43 percent of senior-high school students drink almost on a daily basis (six to seven days per week), a 8.8 percent increase from two years ago.
The results also showed high-school boys drink sugar-sweetened beverages at a higher frequency than their female classmates — with 61.9 percent of boys and 54.4 percent of girls saying they drank them at least four days in a week.
Chen said drinking sugar-sweetened beverages often caused excessive calories intake, leading to weight increase and likely higher risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes or other chronic diseases.
“A cup [700cc] of bubble milk tea contains between 500 and 600 calories,” Chen said. “It takes about three hours of biking, or one hour of jogging, to use up the calories consumed.”
“And if a person drinks a cup per day, he or she will gain approximately 4.3kg in just two months,” Chen said, adding that people who eat frozen snacks every day, such as red-bean milk chipped ice, which contains about 650 calories per serving, may risk gaining 5kg in two months.
Chen said Ministry of Education statistics show that one out of every four children and teenagers are already overweight or obese, and medical research results indicated that it is likely half of the obese children and two-thirds of obese teenagers will grow up to be adults with obesity problems.
The bureau encouraged people get into the habit of replacing sugar-sweetened beverages and frozen snacks with drinking plain water, and to customize beverages by choosing smaller sizes, making them either no-sugar-added or using honey instead and asking for fresh fruit ingredients, for a healthier diet.