The Truth About Sugar in Kids’ Drinks

Preschool & Older

As a parent, you want to give your kids nutritious food and drinks, but sometimes it’s harder to spot the unhealthy dangers than you might imagine. Especially when it comes to drinks. Kids’ drinks are like liquid candy, loaded with sugar. Learn the nutrition facts about their favorite sugary drinks and discover the healthy alternatives. 


Drinking just one 20-ounce bottle of soda a day for a year is the equivalent of eating 6,570 cookies or 61 pounds of sugar!

Tips: Offer healthy choices: “Which would you like, milk or water?” And if you’re craving a soda at a restaurant, make it a small with no refills. After that, try water instead.

Vitamin-enhanced water

You probably know soda isn’t healthy, but what about vitamin-enhanced water? It’s full of sugar too! Don’t let their marketing mislead you. Check the label and see just how much sugar these drinks contain.

Fruit punch

Does your child love fruit punch? It’s the worst offender, packing a walloping 18 teaspoons of sugar per glass! Knock out sugar overload with homemade flavored water. Add slices of favorite fruits, veggies or herbs to water so kids can enjoy a sweet drink without the sugar punch.

Sweet tea

We Georgians love our sweet tea! But drinking just one sweet tea a day is like eating more than 162 boxes of crème-filled cookies a year.

Tip: Finding it tough to give up tea? Cut the amount of sugar you add or ask for half sweet/half unsweet when you’re out.


Juice comes from fruit, so it’s healthy—right? Wrong. The sugar in fruit is natural, but it’s still sugar. And there’s a lot of it in juice (even 100 percent juice!).

Tip: Instead of juice, serve the whole fruit. Unlike juice, the actual fruit has more nutrients like fiber.

Sports drinks

Another shocker: Sports drinks are not always the best choice for your young athlete. Hiding behind those added electrolytes is a whole lot of sugar.

Save sports drinks for times when your child is participating in a nonstop vigorous activity for more than 60 minutes, especially in hot weather.


Smoothies aren’t nearly as healthy as they seem. Most restaurants and smoothie shops add sugary syrups to make them tastier. Even lower-sugar, homemade smoothies break down the fiber that keeps kids feeling full longer. Take our smoothie quiz to learn more.

Nutrition Facts for a Starbucks Strawberry Smoothie