Writer: D'Lyn Ford
LAS CRUCES - Sugary soft drinks and juices have replaced milk as the drink of choice for children. As a result, children are not getting enough calcium in their diet, said a food and nutrition specialist with New Mexico State University.
"Seventy percent of girls ages 4 to 8 and 60 percent of boys that age do not drink enough milk," said Martha Archuleta with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service. "Milk-type beverages are being replaced with fruit drinks and sodas."
According to Archuleta, boys drink 868 cans of soda per year. Girls drink 651 cans of soda per year. That's about two to three cans per day on average.
A good way to get children to drink more milk is to enhance the flavor by adding chocolate or strawberry syrup or powder, Archuleta said. "People don't realize that flavored milks have the same amount of nutrients in terms of calcium, protein, vitamin A and riboflavin that regular plain milk has," she said.
"If you add only a teaspoon or two of flavored syrup or powder, the sugar content increases only slightly but it's not as much sugar as a soft drink or fruit drink contains."
The calcium recommendation for kids is 800 milligrams per day, the amount in three 8 ounce glasses.
"Of course, calcium doesn't have to come through milk," she said. "It can come from cheese, yogurt and other dairy products."
© 2013 New Mexico State University Board of Regents
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