Sugar-sweetened drinks do NOT contribute to childhood obesity, says new study. … Really?

soda illustration with strawby James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

Sometimes studies come up with conclusions that just don’t make common sense. Sometimes facts trump emotions. That’s why we do structured, objective studies with scientific statistical analysis. However, sometimes the studies are flawed and come to the wrong conclusions. That’s why we have peer review, critique and repeat studies to see if we can replicate the same results.

The American Journal of Clinical Medicine published a doozy in their most recent issue, concluding no association between sugar-sweetened beverages and childhood obesity. The beverages included sodas, fruit juices and “ades.”

This was a meta-analysis, which means statistical experts took a look at all past data published on this subject, combined and analyzed it using statistical analysis and came up with an objective conclusion: There was no association between a child’s intake of sugared drinks and BMI (body mass index).

orange soda illustrationSo what does a layperson do with this data? We know the sugar drinks are essentially empty calories with minimal nutritional benefit. We know you can gain weight by taking in more calories than you expend through exercise.

I would go with my instinct. Limit these beverages. I don’t think it could hurt. There will be more studies. We know the percentage of obese children is rising. Maybe what’s making kids fat is more lack of exercise than diet. Genetics play a role. You can’t go wrong with a balanced diet and getting them outside to play.

I would love to know your opinion. Do you limit the sugared drinks? Do you think it helps? What do you substitute? Please share in the comments below.

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5 Responses to “Sugar-sweetened drinks do NOT contribute to childhood obesity, says new study. … Really?”

  1. Mark Salinas Says:

    We do not have soda or “pop”, as we call it in MN. The natural sugar drinks (apple, orange and grape juice)are readily available for the kids. As are the juice boxes that are sugar-sweetened….a mistake probably but it goes back to some kind of subconscious issue that I have from my childhood. I want my kids to have what I wasn’t able to have. Thanks for the insight.

    Mark Salinass last blog post..Fitness At All Ages

  2. Joost Boers Says:

    I do not have children but I’d stick to the ‘no unnecessary sugar’ option as this is the cause of not only obesity but also diabetes. Children MAY not be affected too much in overweight but they probably are the lucky ones that exercise enough. The likelyness gets reduced at these days… There are sugarless alternatives that even may give the kick of energy – or fruit teas may do the job for example?

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Mark, most of medical advice goes back to the old saying “in all things moderation”

    Thanks

  4. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H Says:

    Thanks Joost.

    A lot of things go into children developing diabetes including family history and obesity. Simple sugars play a roll because they just add empty calories without nutritional benefit, and most kids already get enough calories. I think you are correct about exercising makes a big difference.

  5. Addison Says:

    A child has to face numerous problems on account of obesity. In addition to increasing the risk of obesity in adulthood, childhood obesity may cause pediatric hypertension.

    Addisons last blog post..Exercise ‘doesn’t prevent childhood obesity’ – Telegraph.co.uk(Childhood Obesity News)

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