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The Best Alternatives to Four Sugary Drinks for Kids

Sugar sneaks into many drinks that we prepare and give our children. Even in our best attempts to provide healthy food and drink options for our kids, we often don’t realize the actual amounts of sugar the item contains.

Added sugar is any type of sugar or syrup that has been added to the food or drink that you buy.

Sugar, brown, cane and beet sugar, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, maltose, sucrose, fruit juice concentrates, honey, molasses, maltodextrin, agave syrup, malt syrup, maple syrup and syrup are all types of sugar that is added to many go-to foods and beverages.

Many of the drinks we normally turn to are filled with added sugars and don’t always have the necessary vitamins and minerals that our kids need.

The key to reducing sugar consumption in kids (and adults alike) is to keep them out of the home and stock the fridge with cold water and milk.

When kids are thirsty, the most accessible and healthy option is water. Knowing alternatives to sugary drinks can make the right choices easier.

How much sugar is really in these drinks?


Unsweetened pure 100% fruit juice contains 6.7 teaspoons of sugar in every cup.Whole fruits and vegetables are healthier than fruit juice because of the amount of sugar that juices can have. If you’re drinking 100% fruit juice, it’s a good idea to add water to it to dilute some of the sugar content.

Regular non-diet pop contains 6.7 teaspoons of sugar in every cup. Instead of pop, which can contain caffeine and high amounts of sugar choose water and flavour it with lemon, orange, or cucumber for an energizing alternative.


Caffeinated energy drinks contain an average of 6.7 teaspoons in every cup. Caffeinated energy drinks don’t give kids the nutrients they need, and instead provide “quick fixes” that precede intense mood and energy crashes. Instead, water can hydrate and energize kids without the added caffeine and health risks. To learn more about caffeinated energy drinks and youth, read Rethink Your Drink: The Real Effects of Energy Drinks.


Chocolate milk contains 7 teaspoons of sugar in every cup. Chocolate milk is not a healthy drink option, compared to 1% white milk, which contains less than half the sugar of chocolate milk.

Tap the Tap and Choose Water

The Tap the Tap: Water Between Meals community initiative by the IWK Health Centre encourages parents and other childcare providers to offer young children water between meals and snacks instead of sugary drinks, including juice.

In communities with safe drinking water, tap water is a great way to stay healthy while saving money. Water is the best way to stay hydrated instead of high-sugar drinks that can lead to obesity, picky eating, poor nutrition, and tooth decay.

Working With Our Schools

Working with the Halifax Regional School Board, Doctors Nova Scotia has been speaking with kids about the health risks of energy drinks and other high-sugar drinks, and teaching children about the benefits to choosing alternative drinks and leading healthier lifestyles.

The discussions with kids include facts about energy drinks, what nutrients they need every day, and why keeping hydrated is important – especially while being physically active.

Working with kids to help them understand why sugary drinks aren’t healthy, and showing them the best alternatives, will help foster healthy living choices that can last their whole lives.

Were you surprised to learn about the sugar content in the beverages listed above? Will you encourage your children to choose water next time they’re thirsty?