Most parents today know that sugary soft drinks and diet sodas are unhealthy for kids and should be avoided, but results of a new study from the University of Connecticut tell us moms and dads may be offering up an equally unhealthy alternative: fruit juices, sports drinks, and flavored waters that are still loaded with harmful sugar.
“The labeling and marketing for these products imply that they are nutritious, and these misperceptions may explain why so many parents buy them,” study author Jennifer Harris told USA Today. She may be right on the money, especially since parents are inundated with labels that claim products are “low in calories” or contain “real fruit juice” and “essential nutrients,” suggesting they are a healthy option for kids.
According to the results of the study, 96% of parents surveyed said they had given their children—some as young as two years old—sugary drinks in the past month. The most popular beverages were regular soft drinks and fruit drinks, but sports drinks, sweetened ice tea, and flavored water were not far behind. What’s more, nearly 50% of parents involved in the study said they believed flavored waters were “healthy,” and more than 25% believed the same about fruit drinks and sports drinks.
Study author Marlene Schwartz believes it all comes down to product packaging—and that we need to be stricter about ingredient claims so parents are accurately informed about what their children are really putting in their bodies. At the end of the day, the healthiest choice for kids (and adults!) is fresh, purified water.