Credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock Photo: Soda Cans

A new study in the journal Pediatrics has revealed a link between sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) and higher body mass index (BMI) in children ages 2 to 5 years. In short, sugary drinks may be making your child fat.

Researchers under lead author Mark DeBoer of the University of Virginia surveyed the parents of 9,600 children between the ages of 2 to 5 years over a period of time. Based on the information provided by these parents, it was determined that 9.3% of 2-year-olds, 13% of 4-year-olds, and 11.6% of 5-year-olds consumed more than one sugary drink a day.

The study drew the conclusions that the 4- and 5-year-olds who consumed sugary drinks regularly were more likely to be heavier than their peers, and of the 2-year-olds with similar habits, they were likely to be heavier than their peers by the time they were 4. Additionally, among the children, 31.4% of 2-year-olds were already classified as obese as well as 32.7% of the 4- and 5-year-olds.

In a blog post on Motherlode from The New York Times, the author stresses the fact that the study not only found a link between SSB and BMI, but researchers had also found associations between screen time and high BMI and screen time and failing to drink milk. This is a very broad spectrum of results within a single study that included three variables.

This study will likely be split into several smaller sections, each with its own strain of research to prove or disprove its theories, but in the meantime, it’s important to point out that these findings propose a link, not a cause of high BMI in children.

As the blog put it, “Does increased television watching lead to more advertising viewed and thus to more S.S.B. consumption, or does the heavier child watch more television? Do the sugar-sweetened beverages squeeze out the milk, or does a refusal to drink milk lead to drinking more sugar-sweetened beverages?”

The answer at the moment is still unconfirmed.

Sources: Pediatrics, The New York Times


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