Children who sip sugary drinks more likely to be obese

Kids who regularly sip on soda or other sugary drinks are more likely to become obese, according to research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

A review of data from 9,600 children ages 2 to 5 in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey found that regular consumption – defined as one or more 8-ounce serving per day – of sugary drinks can raise body mass index scores in 4- and 5-year-old kids. These kids were also more likely to have increased BMI during the course of two years than kids who did not consume sugary drinks regularly or at all.

Other factors

While the link between soda consumption and obesity might seem obvious, the study also found that kids who drink sugary beverages drink less milk and watch more television every day than kids who do not consume sugary beverages often or at all.

"Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is only one practice out of many that contribute to obesity during childhood," said UVA researcher Mark D. DeBoer, M.D., in a press release.

However, since drinking sugary beverages is a modifiable behavior researchers said it deserves attention. Public health policy changes that limit the availability of sugary drinks in schools could be helpful in lowering consumption.

"Providing access to nutritious foods and limiting overconsumption of soda at home, school and in the community in early childhood is a potentially helpful way to improve long-term health outcomes for children," Scharf said.

Parental guidance

Parents should start by replacing sugary beverages with water, researchers noted, to help children avoid weight gain. Regular physical exercise and adequate sleep will also keep extra pounds from piling on.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity rates have more than doubled in the past 30 years.

Source: University of Virginia Health System

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