Sugar-sweetened beverages increased obesity risk in young children
Children who consume sugar-sweetened beverages regularly have a higher BMI z score compared with those who do not consume them regularly, according to recent study findings published in Pediatrics.
“We found in a large cohort of children followed longitudinally from age 2 to 5 years that consuming [sugar-sweetened beverages] was associated with higher BMI z score and/or a greater increase in BMI z score over time,” researchers wrote. “These findings were in contrast to some previous studies in this age range but consistent with findings from older children.”
The study included 9,600 children aged 2 to 5 years from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey-Birth Cohort.
Researchers found that there was a relatively low rate of consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages at age 2 years (9.3% drinking ≤1 serving daily) that increased at age 4 and 5 years (13% at age 4 years and 11.6% at age 5 years). Regular drinkers of sugar-sweetened beverages (at least one serving daily) at age 4 and 5 years compared with infrequent or nondrinkers (less than 1 serving) had increased odds of being overweight and obese. Sugar-sweetened beverage drinkers at age 5 years also had higher adjusted odds of obesity (P<.01).
There was also a greater increase in BMI zscore by age 4 years for children drinking at least one serving daily at age 2 years compared with infrequent or nondrinkers.
“As a means of protecting against excess weight gain, parents and caregivers should be discouraged from providing their children with [sugar-sweetened beverages] and consuming instead calorie-free beverages and milk,” researchers wrote. “Such steps may help mitigate a small but important contribution to the current epidemic of childhood obesity.”
Disclosure: The study was funded in part by NIH.