Soft drinks and body weight development in childhood: is there a relationship?

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The high sugar content of regular soft drinks brought up discussions on their influence on energy balance and body weight especially in childhood and adolescence. This review examines the evidence for a causal relationship between soft drink consumption and excess weight gain in childhood and identifies potential underlying mechanisms.

Recent findings

Although results from cohort studies contrary to those from intervention studies are not univocal, there is evidence for a detrimental effect of soft drink consumption on body weight in childhood. This impact seems to be induced by an inadequate energy compensation after the consumption of sugar-containing beverages. Because of the similar composition of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and sucrose, it is implausible that these types of sugar in soft drinks can cause substantially different effects on body weight.

Summary

The replacement of soft drinks and other sugar-containing beverages such as fruit juices by noncaloric alternatives seems to be a promising approach for the prevention of overweight in childhood and adolescence. However, as the cause of overweight and obesity is multifactorial, the limitation of soft drink consumption needs to be incorporated in a complex strategy for obesity prevention.

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