Sugary Drinks Linked to Obesity Rise
Increase in Sweetened Soft-Drink Use Since 1977 Tracks U.S. Obesity Epidemic
WebMD News Archive
Aug. 10, 2006 -- Sugary sodas and fruit drinks may be a major factor behind
obesityobesity epidemic in
America, according to a new study.
Researchers reviewed more than 40 years of studies and found the recent
increase in consumption of sugary soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened drinks,
like fruit drinks, lemonade, and iced tea, is associated with weight gain and
"Although it has long been suspected that soft drinks contribute at
least in part to the obesity epidemic, only in recent years have large
epidemiologic studies begun to investigate the relation between soft-drink
consumption and long-term weight gain," writes Vasanti S. Malik, of the
Harvard School of Public Health, and colleagues in the American Journal of
Soft-Drink Trends Parallel Obesity Rise
The results show that nondiet soft drinks are the largest source of added
sugars in the American diet, and consumption of these drinks increased 135%
between 1977 and 2001.
During the same time period, obesity ballooned to epidemic proportions in
the U.S., with nearly two-thirds of adults 20-74 years now overweight or
A single, 12-ounce can of soda contains 150 calories and around 40-50 grams
of sugar in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, or the equivalent of 10
teaspoons of table sugar.
Researchers say adding the calories from a single soda a day to the typical
U.S. diet could mean a weight gain of 15 pounds over a year.
Educating Americans About Sodas and Weight Gain
For their study, the researchers reviewed 30 studies published between 1966
Long-term studies showed an association between increasing consumption of
sugar-sweetened drinks and weight gain as well as obesity among children and
In addition, the researchers reviewed a study in schoolchildren that showed
an educational program advocating fewer sugary sodas reduced weight gain and
obesity among the kids after 12 months.
Another study looked at adolescents who reported drinking sugary soft drinks
every day. Half the teens were provided with zero-calorie diet beverages
delivered to their homes for 25 weeks. There was a drop in consumption of
sugary drinks by 82% in those teens, along with improvement in body weight
compared to the teens who continued their usual soft-drink use.
"Given the global incidence rates of overweight and obesity are on the
rise, particularly among children and adolescents, it is imperative that
current public health strategies include education about beverage intake,"
write the researchers. "Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages such as
soda and fruit drinks should be discouraged, and efforts to promote the
consumption of other beverages such as water, low-fat milk, and small
quantities of fruit juice should be made a priority."