Regular sugar-sweetened beverage consumption between meals increases risk of overweight among preschool-aged children

Lise Dubois, Anna Farmer, Manon Girard, Kelly Peterson
Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2007, 107 (6): 924-34; discussion 934-5

OBJECTIVE: To examine the relationship between consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (eg, nondiet carbonated drinks and fruit drinks) and the prevalence of overweight among preschool-aged children living in Canada.

DESIGN: Data come from the Longitudinal Study of Child Development in Québec (1998-2002).

SUBJECTS/SETTING: A representative sample (n=2,103) of children born in 1998 in Québec, Canada. A total of 1,944 children (still representative of the same-age children in this population) remaining at 4 to 5 years in 2002 participated in the nutrition study.

STATISTICAL ANALYSES PERFORMED: Data were collected via 24-hour dietary recall interview. Frequency of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption between meals at age 2.5, 3.5, and 4.5 years was recorded and children's height and weight were measured. Multivariate regression analysis was done with Statistical Analysis System software. Weighted data were adjusted for within-child variability and significance level was set at 5%.

RESULTS: Overall, 6.9% of children who were nonconsumers of sugar-sweetened beverages between meals between the ages of 2.5 to 4.5 years were overweight at 4.5 years, compared to 15.4% of regular consumers (four to six times or more per week) at ages 2.5 years, 3.5 years, and 4.5 years. According to multivariate analysis, sugar-sweetened beverage consumption between meals more than doubles the odds of being overweight when other important factors are considered in multivariate analysis. Children from families with insufficient income who consume sugar-sweetened beverages regularly between the ages of 2.5 and 4.5 years are more than three times more likely to be overweight at age 4.5 years compared to nonconsuming children from sufficient income households.

CONCLUSIONS: Regular sugar-sweetened beverage consumption between meals may put some young children at a greater risk for overweight. Parents should limit the quantity of sweetened beverages consumed during preschool years because it may increase propensity to gain weight.

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