Children Getting Bigger By the Glassful

Obesity Society recommends minimizing sugar sweetened beverage consumption among children

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) More than one in three children were considered overweight or obese in 2012. What’s causing our kids to get so big? The biggest culprit may be sugary drinks.

In the past 30 years, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Studies have shown that soda, sports drinks and other types of beverages that are mostly water and added sugar really pack on the pounds. Many of these drinks are marketed specifically to young people.

The Obesity Society, an organization dedicated to preventing and treating obesity, recently issued a position statement recommending that children limit their consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages because these drinks are definitely contributing to a high level of obesity.

"Limit drinking sodas and other sweet drinks."

Diana Thomas, PhD, professor at Montclair State University in New Jersey and director of the Center for Quantitative Obesity Research, elaborated on the The Obesity Society’s position in a statement.

“There’s no arguing with the fact that the high rates of obesity in the U.S. are troubling for our nation’s health, specifically the recently reported rise in severe obesity among children in JAMA Pediatrics,” said Obesity Society spokesperson Diana Thomas, PhD, Professor at Montclair State University and Director of the Center for Quantitative Obesity Research in a press release.

“Following a thorough review and analysis of the existing research, [The Obesity Society] concludes that, by adding more non-nutritious calories to the American diet, sugar-sweetened beverages have contributed to the U.S. obesity epidemic. Further, we recommend that to maintain and improve health children minimize drinking sugar-sweetened beverages and adults reduce or avoid sugar-sweetened beverage consumption as part of an overall strategy to reduce calories," Dr. Thomas said.

The Obesity Society statement referred to several scientific studies to defend its position. In a large trial of 641 children, scientists noted that that children who drank one sweetened drink per day for a year and half gained more weight than children who drank one unsweetened drink per day. The Obesity Society also referenced investigations with adults demonstrating that increasing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages increased weight.

The American Heart Association says that being obese increases the risk for health problems such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Instead of consuming sugary drinks, the Obesity Society urges individuals to drink more calorie-free water.

“We encourage policymakers, scientists, clinicians and the public to further explore the total caloric density of foods, including all foods high in added sugar, in an effort to provide more science-based nutritional insight and develop healthier food and beverage options to support America’s health,” said Steven R. Smith, MD, the president of The Obesity Society in a statement.

The Obesity Society issued this position statement in April.

Review Date: 
April 30, 2014
Last Updated:
May 1, 2014