One thing I find striking whenever we go out to eat is amount of sugary soft drinks that are consumed by almost everyone around us. It's become a standard part of every meal, and unfortunately there can be some negative health consequences.

Parents know on some level that all that sugar and all those extra calories are not good for their child. Do we really want 12-16 oz. of artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, and caffeine in just a few swallows?

With the alarming increase in childhood obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, and behavior disorders, maybe the time has come to give more thought to what we're feeding our children and make some common sense choices. A good place to start is with drinking water, and here are 8 good reasons why.

1. Excessive soft drink consumption may be linked to violent behavior.

A study published in the journal Injury Prevention found that teenagers who drink excessive amounts of soda (5 or more per day) were more likely to exhibit violent behavior or carry weapons. This held true even after taking into account age, drug or alcohol use, and family dynamics. Whether one causes the other is still being determined, but experts are considering soda consumption as a potential marker for aggressive tendencies.

2. Soft drinks replace good nutrition.

When children drink a lot, that liquid dampens their appetite and replaces real food. It's hard to dispute that kids prefer soft drinks to water, so not only are they reducing their consumption of healthy food, but they're increasing the intake of unhealthy beverages.

3. Water is cheaper.

Most restaurants will happily give you water free of charge, and drinking tap water at home costs virtually nothing. Plus, at home you can get unlimited refills, and who doesn't love that?

4. Water is more environmentally friendly.

Drinking tap water instead of purchased beverages decreases the amount of garbage we produce that goes into landfills. While recycling is effective in reducing this waste, it still requires energy, thereby increasing pollution and greenhouse gases.

5. Soft drinks are all about hype and marketing.

Soft drink makers often promote their products with promises of being cool or make outrageous health claims. Maybe it's a good lesson to teach your kids not to succumb to that.

6. Soda promotes tooth decay.

The rise in childhood obesity is mirrored with an increase in tooth decay, for many of the same reasons — our kids are eating too much junk food, and the constant exposure to sugar wreaks havoc on their teeth. Tooth decay is more than just cavities; it can increase inflammation throughout the body, including the heart.

7. Sweetened drinks are loaded with calories.

An average can of soda has as much as 150 extra calories, which can add up quickly throughout the day. These are empty calories that replace healthy foods.

8. Water is all natural.

There are never any preservatives, artificial colors, preservatives, and for that matter, high fructose corn syrup. When you really get down to it, some soft drinks probably don't contain a single natural ingredient. Do you want your children drinking that for the rest of their lives?

The idea of getting your kids to drink water instead of soda may seem daunting — but let's be realistic. As parents, sometimes we have make tough decisions that aren't going to make us popular with our kids but are in their best interest. That's when it's critical to be a parent and not a best friend.

If you have questions or concerns about your child's diet, speak with your pediatrician and visit the website for Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).