Researchers at the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at The University of Texas have suggested that children who extensively engage themselves into these drinks are putting their health at risk.
"Children and parents associate these drinks with a healthy lifestyle despite their increased amount of sugar and lack of nutritional value," said Nalini Ranjit, principal investigator of the study.
Researchers examined the association between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, unhealthy and healthy foods and physical activity levels of 8th and 11th grade students to determine the relationship between beverage consumption and other behaviours.
Sugar-sweetened beverages are drinks that contain added caloric sweeteners such as sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, including a large variety of carbonated and noncarbonated drinks but excluding 100 percent fruit juice.
"Sports drinks have been successfully marketed as beverages consistent with a healthy lifestyle, which has set them apart from sodas.
"However they have minimal fruit juice and contain unnecessary calories," said Ranjit.
Study results have suggested there is a popular misperception of flavoured and sports beverages being consistent with a healthy lifestyle, despite their sugary content.
Researchers in the study found that 28 percent of Texas children are consuming sugar-sweetened beverages three or more times a day. Among boys, the average daily consumption of soda increased from 8th to 11th grade while consumption of non-carbonated flavored and sports beverages remained steady.
Soda consumption in girls remained steady from 8th to 11th grade and consumption of non-carbonated flavored and sports beverages declined substantially.
"High levels of consumption of these beverages have the potential to increase weight gain.
"Drinking just one can of soda or other sugary beverage a day could lead to more than a 10-pound weight gain in a year," said Ranjit.
The study would appear in the October issue of Pediatrics.