(RxWiki News) How much difference does a single sugar-sweetened drink each day make for kids? Over a year a half, enough of a difference to be measured.
A recent study found that kids provided with a sugar-free drink gained 2 pounds less than kids given sugar-sweetened drinks.
"Everyone should drink fewer sugary drinks."
The study, led by Janne C. de Ruyter, MSc, from the Department of Health Sciences at the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research within Amsterdam's VU University, lasted 18 months.
The study involved 641 children who were mostly of a normal, appropriate weight. They ranged in age from nearly 5 years old to nearly 12 years old.
The children were randomly split into two groups. One received a sugar-free, artificially sweetened 8-oz. drink each day, and the other group received a sugary drink each day that had 104 calories.
The drinks were distributed to students through their schools. At the end of the 18 months, 26 percent of the children had stopped drinking the beverages, so this data was weighted accordingly for the study.
At the end of the study, the children receiving sugary drinks had gained 16 pounds on average compared to an average 14 pounds gained in the group receiving artificially sweetened drinks.
The body mass index for each group was also measured at the start and end of the study.
Body mass index (BMI) is the ratio of a person's height to weight in metric measurements. It is used to measure someone's weight as being healthy, overweight or obese.
At the end of the study, the group who had received the sugar-sweetened drinks had increase in their BMI was 0.15 standard deviation units, compared to an increase of 0.02 units in those who received the no-calorie drinks. These measurements do not include the children who stopped drinking the beverages.
In addition, the body fat percentage and the waist-to-height ratio in the group receiving the sugar-free drinks also increased significantly less than in the group receiving the sugar-sweetened drinks.
"Masked replacement of sugar-containing beverages with noncaloric beverages reduced weight gain and fat accumulation in normal-weight children," the authors concluded.
The study was published September 21 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The research was funded by the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development, the Netherlands Heart Foundation and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.