Ruth Striegel-Moore, Ph.D., and colleagues from several institutions studied three-day food diaries kept by 2,371 girls who participated in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Growth Health Study. The food diaries were provided by the participants during annual visits between the ages of nine or ten through age 19.
The authors found that for both groups, milk consumption decreased by over 25% during the course of the study while soda intake, on average, nearly tripled, becoming the number one beverage consumed by older girls. There was also an increase in the consumption of fruit drinks among black girls.
As the authors point out, sodas lack nutritional value and are replacing beverages such as milk, which is an important source of the calcium needed for good bone health. Also, girls who consumed the most soda tended to be heavier than girls with lower soda intake. The authors suggest that public health efforts are needed to aid adolescents in choosing healthier beverages to help avoid calcium deficiencies and weight gain.
In an accompanying editorial, Dr. William Dietz supports this suggestion: "Because milk provides an important source of calcium in the diets of children and adolescents, the decline in girls' milk consumption at a time when bone mineral deposition may predispose to eventual osteoporosis is a major concern."