Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 7th 2013 Contents B36
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Georgia-Rae Mottley (Investigating O cer)
Aleyya Gafoor-Ali (Legal O cer I)
Haran Ramkaransingh (Head Legal)
Emeritus Professor John La Guerre (Chairman)
Five-year-olds who drink sugar-sweetened
sodas, sports drinks or juices every day are more
likely to be obese than those who have sugar-
sweetened beverages less often, according to a
Although the link between sugary drinks and
extra weight has been well-documented among
teens and adults, researchers say that up until now,
the evidence was less clear for young children.
"Even though sugar-sweetened beverages are
relatively a small percentage of the calories that
children take in, that additional number of calories
did contribute to more weight gain over time," said
Dr Mark DeBoer, who led the study at the University
of Virginia in Charlottesville.
He and his colleagues surveyed the parents of a
nationally-representative group of 9,600 children
when the kids were two, four and five years old.
The children were all born in 2001. Parents reported
on their income and education, as well as how
often children drank sugary beverages and watched
TV.The children and their mothers were weighed at
each survey visit.
The proportion of kids who had at least one soda,
sports drink or sugar-sweetened juice drink each
day ranged from nine to 13 per cent, depending on
Those children were more likely to have an over-
weight mother and to watch at least two hours of
TV each day at age four and five.
After accounting for those influences as well as
families socioeconomic status, the researchers
found five-year-olds who had at least one sugary
drink each day were 43 per cent more likely to be
obese than those who drank the beverages less fre-
quently or not at all.
Kids were considered obese if they had a body
mass index---a measure of weight in relation to
height---above the 95th percentile for their age and
gender, as calculated by the US Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.
About 15 per cent of five-year-olds in the study
Four-year-old sugary beverage drinkers also tend-
ed to have a higher rate of obesity than non-
drinkers---but that finding could have been due to
chance, the researchers reported Monday in Pedi-
atrics. Among two-year-olds, there was no link
between sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity.
In a statement sent to Reuters Health, the Amer-
ican Beverage Association trade group wrote, "Over-
weight and obesity are caused by an imbalance
between calories consumed from all foods and bev-
erages (total diet) and calories burned (physical
"Therefore, it is misleading to suggest that bev-
erage consumption is uniquely responsible for weight
gain among this group of children, especially at a
Sugary drinks tied to obesity among preschoolers
time in their lives when they would nor-
mally gain weight and grow."
The researchers said children who drink
sports drinks and other beverages with
added sugar may not make up for the extra
calories by eating or drinking less of some-
thing else. That could be in part because
sugar wouldn t satisfy children s appetite
as well as something with protein and fat.
Drinking milk, on the other hand, "will
contribute to satiety and not as big of an
increase in total intake as something that
is pure sugar," DeBoer told Reuters Health.
His study did not take into account kids
other eating habits and physical activity.
Dr Y Claire Wang, who studies childhood
nutrition and obesity at the Columbia Uni-
versity Mailman School of Public Health
in New York, said she wasn t surprised by
"This is really just adding to the evidence
we already know that (drinking) sugar-
sweetened beverages in childhood is asso-
ciated with weight gain. It s definitely one
of the major, if not the main, driver in
childhood obesity," Wang, who wasn t
involved in the new research, told Reuters
One of the study s co-authors, Ryan
Demmer, is also a researcher at Colum-
DeBoer said parents should be aware of
where young children are getting extra
unhealthy calories and stick with water
and milk for beverage options.
Wang recommended whole fruits over
fruit drinks and juices.
"It s not to say that you re going to ban
all these sugary things...from people s
childhoods," she said.
"It s just they re supposed to be very
rare treats." (Reuters)
News and advice
Doctors have recommended whole fruits over fruit
drinks and juices.
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
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