Beverage guidelines for children released by experts

Experts in the US have warned against giving sugary drinks to children in a new set of guidelines.

A new set of comprehensive beverage recommendations for children have been released by medical and nutritional organisations, which recommend breast milk, infant formula, water, and plain milk for children aged five and under.

The recommendations also caution against beverages that are sources of added sugars in young children’s diets, including flavoured milks and sugar– and low-calorie sweetened beverages, in addition to a wide variety of beverages that are targeted to children such as toddler formulas, caffeinated beverages, and plant-based/non-dairy milks, which provide no unique nutritional value.

The recommendations outlined above by age are intended for healthy children in the United States and do not address medical situations in which specific nutrition guidance is needed to manage a health condition or specific dietary choices such as abstaining from animal products.

“Early childhood is an important time to start shaping nutrition habits and promoting healthy beverage consumption,” said Megan Lott, MPH, RD, Deputy Director of Healthy Eating Research, which convened the expert panel. “By providing caregivers, health care and early care and education providers, policymakers, and beverage industry representatives a clear set of objective, science-based recommendations for healthy drink consumption, we can use this opportunity to work together and improve the health and well-being of infants and young children throughout the United States.”

The recommendations were developed as part of a collaboration by experts at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the Academy)American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the American Heart Association (AHA) under the leadership of Healthy Eating Research (HER).

To develop the recommendations, HER conducted a review of scientific literature, existing guidelines from national and international bodies, and reports on children’s beverage consumption. It also convened an expert panel of representatives from AAP, AHA, the Academy, and AAPD and a scientific advisory committee who discussed and reviewed the preliminary and final recommendations.

The full guidelines and accompanying technical report can be found here.

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