Nowadays, the life of both adults and children has become very hectic, and nutrition has taken a back seat. The adequate nutrition got from a balanced diet is ignored, which leads to low performance in extracurricular activities and academics.
There are numerous advertisements on television about the variety of health drinks boasting about their contribution towards making children grow sharper and healthier. Studies showed these so called health drinks provided children with mostly sugar and very less or no nutrition.(1)
Are these health drinks really necessary for the growth and development of children? What can be the pros and cons of introducing them to a child’s diet?
These questions often bother the parents.
Let’s find answers to the above questions.
What are Health Drinks?
Health drinks are the fortified drink mix that is mostly available in powdered form. They can be mixed with water or milk for consumption.
They are made for children of various age groups. Some health drinks are specially made for adults keeping their nutrition in mind.
They are prepared with a mixture of powdered milk, powdered grains, sugar, flavor, and some essential vitamins and minerals. The aim is to add more nutrition to the child’s diet.
Are the Health Drinks Really Required For Children?
If the child is a fussy eater, it is very difficult to give him proper nutrition. This makes parents resort to health drinks.
They can also be considered for kids active in sports and involved in lots of physical activities, wherein a boost of energy is needed.
But, if a child is eating well, health drinks are not required. They are nothing but food material like milk and grains with preservatives added.
Most pediatricians do not recommend it for children except for the ones who are fussy eaters.
Experts also recommend opting for natural health drinks such as coconut water, lime water, fresh fruit juices, or electrolyte powders.(2,3) Fruit milkshakes and soy milk can also be a good source of essential protein, vitamins, and energy.
Parents should always look for healthy substitutes for children.
Do Health Drinks Add Anything Extra for a Child’s Growth?
Health drinks contain additional protein, calcium, phosphorus and can benefit the overall development of children.
If the child is really not eating well, it is good to consult a pediatrician and to get advice on which health drink to start with.
Some health drinks are made to just add flavor to the milk, as kids do not consume plain milk.
Do Health Drinks Make Children, Smarter, Sharper, and Taller?
Height and intelligence depend on the genetic makeup of the child.
Some brands add DHA that is required for the mental development of children.
Not all the claims made by the companies, manufacturing these health drinks are true. Also, the effectiveness of various factors depends on the number of nutrients present in the product.
Side Effects and Complications of Health Drinks on Child’s Health
While the health drinks promise to do good for the children. Excess of it can harmful to kid’s health.
These drinks are infused with protein, vitamins, and minerals. Excess intake can put pressure on the internal organs. The children can get addicted to these drinks making them dependent on supplements in the long run.
It can also lead to cravings for more causing dental cavities and decay.
These health drinks can also increase the risk of diabetes later in life.
It is important for the parent to get suggested by a pediatrician on what health drink to start with and on the amount to be consumed. The expert looks upon the child’s health and requirements and decides whether it should be taken every day, once in a day or twice.
Most of the parents give it to kids twice a day while a few use it as a way to keep the child full in between the meals.
It should always be remembered that excess of anything is bad. If anything claims to raise the health perspective of a child, it can even bring it down if consumed in large quantities.