Five-year-olds who drink juices, sodas, and sports drinks are 43 percent more likely to be obese than those who don’t drink the sugar-sweetened drinks. According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, after accounting for influences like socioeconomic status, preschoolers who drink sugary beverages at least once a day are more likely to be obese than those who drink them less frequently or not at all. Researchers say that kids who drink sugary drinks don't modify their calorie intake by eating or drinking less of something else, because sugar doesn't satisfy kids' appetites.
"Even though sugar-sweetened beverages are relatively a small percentage of the calories that children take in, that additional amount of calories did contribute to more weight gain over time," said Dr. Mark DeBoer, who led the study.
For the project, DeBoer and his team from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville took a national survey of children who were 2, 4, and 5 years old, asking their parents how often they drank sugary drinks and watched TV, periodically weighing the kids. The proportion of tots who had at least one soda, sports drink, or sugar-sweetened juice drink each day ranged from nine to 13 percent, depending on their age.
Based on the study results, DeBoer suggests parents be aware of where their kids are getting their calories and to stick with water and milk as beverage options.