(2000), the percentage of total intake of added sweeteners contributed by soft drinks and fruit drinks to the diets of children is as follows:

  • Children aged 2–5 years: 34 percent

  • Children aged 6–11 years: 35 percent

  • Females aged 12–17 years: 48 percent

  • Males aged 12–17 years: 50 percent

Several primary studies have found a positive link between obesity and soft-drink consumption (James et al., 2004; Ludwig et al., 2001; Mrdjenovic and Levitsky, 2003; Striegel-Moore et al., 2006; Welsh et al., 2005). Pereira (2006) and Bachman et al. (2006) concluded from a review of studies that the findings were inconsistent, and high-quality randomized trials are needed to evaluate the possible association between changes in sweetened beverage intake and risk for obesity. A systematic review of the literature (Malik et al., 2006) examined sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain and concluded that the weight of epidemiological and experimental evidence indicated that a greater consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with weight gain and obesity. In general, reducing consumption of sweetened beverages is viewed as an important component of a broad strategy to reduce excess energy intake (Dietz, 2006; Popkin et al., 2006).

Consumption of Fat

The role of fat in the diet is complicated because different types of fatty acids have different effects on health. However, it is clear that children consume too much dietary fat, and too much of the fat is from saturated fatty acids (DHHS, 2000). Troiano et al. (2000) found that only one in four school-age children met the intake guidelines for total fat and saturated fat. Among 9- to 13-year-old males, only 14 percent met the dietary fat recommendation of 30 percent or less of total calories from fat and only 6 percent met the saturated fat recommendation (Gleason and Suitor, 2001a). Data are consistent that diets low in saturated fatty acids are associated with lower risk for and lower rates of CHD (DHHS, 2000).

The DGA recommends that children and adolescents 4–18 years of age consume 25–35 percent of their calories from fat, with most fats coming from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. Less than 10 percent of calories should come from saturated fats and trans fat intake should be kept as low as possible (DHHS/USDA, 2005). For individuals with elevated blood cholesterol levels, the recommended saturated fat intake is less than 7 percent of total calories (DHHS/USDA, 2005).

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