No official advice will be issued about children’s intake of sugary drinks, but a Health department spokesman has endorsed the comments made by the UK government’s scientific advisory committee.
Dawn Henley, of the Department of Health, said the report on which the advice was based contained various recommendations including a tax on soft drinks and they wanted to consider it fully before responding.
‘We agree that drinking water is good for children for many reasons and it is a good habit to get into rather than drinking sugary drinks as the norm. Another problem is that sugary drinks like that have lots of calories but not many nutrients so they don’t really do you a lot of good,’ she said.
Clearly drinking water at mealtimes will only help to address childhood obesity: ‘It can only be a factor. Obviously drinking water with a huge plate of sausages and chips is not really going to address the issue,’ she added.
‘It’s important to look at the whole picture and consider the balance between energy in calories consumed during the day, and energy out in the form of exercise and daily extivities. It’s a matter of balance and the key is often to do things in moderation.’
Mrs Henley said they endorsed official advice on drinking water or milk, including milk shake if it was without added sugar, and full fat milk. While advice in the UK suggested giving children semi-skimmed milk, experts in the Isle of Man have said full fat milk is perfectly acceptable for growing children provided they are not still being weaned on breast milk.
Even pure fruit juice - though better than fizzy drinks - does not escape criticism as it still contains natural sugars. Children wanting to drink it should ideally still dilute it with plain water or even sparkling water, which will also reduce its harmful effects on the teeth.
The UK recommendations follow a six-year research programme which said excessive sugar was linked to obesity, tooth decay, some cancers and type two diabetes.