Intake of calorically sweetened beverages and obesity

Authors


Nanna Olsen, Research Unit for Dietary Studies, Institute of Preventive Medicine, Copenhagen, Denmark. E-mail: njo@ipm.regionh.dk

Summary

The prevalence of obesity has increased in the past 30 years, and at the same time a steep increase in consumption of soft drinks has been seen. This paper reviews the literature for studies on associations between intake of calorically sweetened beverages and obesity, relative to adjustment for energy intake. Conclusions from previous reviews have been inconsistent, but some included many cross-sectional studies or studies supported by sugar industry. A literature search was performed for prospective and experimental studies using Medline and Scirus. Fourteen prospective and five experimental studies were identified. The majority of the prospective studies found positive associations between intake of calorically sweetened beverages and obesity. Three experimental studies found positive effects of calorically sweetened beverages and subsequent changes in body fat. Two experimental studies did not find effects. Eight prospective studies adjusted for energy intake. Seven of these studies reported associations that were essentially similar before and after energy adjustment. In conclusion, a high intake of calorically sweetened beverages can be regarded as a determinant for obesity. However, there seems to be no support that the association between intake of calorically sweetened beverages and obesity is mediated via increased energy intake, and alternative biological explanations should be explored.

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