Relationship between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: a prospective, observational analysis

David S Ludwig, Karen E Peterson, Steven L Gortmaker

ABSTRACT

Summary

Background
The rising prevalence in obesity in children has been linked in part to the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks. Our aim was to examine this relation.

Methods
We enrolled 548 ethnically diverse schoolchildren (age 11.7 years, SD 0.8) from public schools in four Massachusetts communities, and studied them prospectively for 19 months from October, 1995, to May, 1997. We examined the association between baseline and change in consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks (the independent variables), and difference in measures of obesity, with linear and logistic regression analyses adjusted for potentially confounding variables and clustering of results within schools.

Findings
For each additional serving of sugar-sweetened drink consumed, both body mass index (BMI) (mean 0.24kg/m2; ratio 1:60; 95% CI 1.14-2.24; p=0.02) increased after adjustment for anthropometric, demographic, dietary, and lifestyle variables. Baseline consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks was also independently associated with change in BMI (mean 0.18kg/ m2 for each daily serving; 95% CI 0.09-0.27; p=0.02).

Interpretation
Consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks is associated with obesity in children.

Lancet 2001; 357; 505-08