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Keywords:

  • Carbonated beverages;
  • child;
  • longitudinal studies;
  • obesity

Summary

What is already known about this subject

  • In several studies direct associations between intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and adiposity have been reported.
  • However, most previous studies were conducted among Americans and assessed the intake in the sub-categories of soft drinks and sugar-sweetened beverages, only, rather than the total intake of sweet drinks.

What this study adds

  • We examined associations between total intake of sweet drinks and body mass index (BMI) and body fat in a non-US population.
  • Using a longitudinal design increased sweet drink consumption was generally unassociated with subsequent change in BMI or sum of four skin-folds.

Background

In some previous studies direct associations between intake of soft drinks, sugar-sweetened beverages and adiposity have been reported. The majority of these studies were, however, conducted in the USA and it is uncertain if the results are applicable to non-US countries.

Objective

To assess the association between sweet drink intake at age 6 and 9 years and the subsequent 3- to 7-year changes in body mass index (BMI) and sum of four skin-folds (Σ4SF).

Methods

Information on sweet drink intake (7 days food record) and physical activity (accelerometer) was obtained at age 6 years (n = 366) [Correction made here after initial online publication.] and 9 years (n = 269). Weight, height and Σ4SF were measured at age 6, 9 and 13 years. Additional information on socio-economic status, maternal BMI and pubertal status was obtained.

Results

No associations were observed between sweet drink intake at age 6 years and change in BMI or logΣ4SF from age 6 to 9 years or 6 to 13 years. Also, no associations were observed between change in sweet drink intake from age 6 to 9 years and subsequent change in BMI or logΣ4SF from age 9 to 13 years. A weak direct association was observed between sweet drink intake at age 9 years and change in logΣ4SF from age 9 to 13 years (per 100 g ∼ 3.38 fl oz) (β: 0.014, 95% confidence interval [CI]: −0.001 to 0.029, P = 0.06), while no association was seen for BMI. In supplementary analyses a similar association was observed for soft drinks (β: 0.087, 95% CI: 0.048 to 0.126, P = 0.001) but only in the intervention group.

Conclusion

We observed associations between intake of sweet drinks and soft drinks and change in skin-fold thickness in a group of Danish children. However, as the associations did not remain significant when multiple testing was considered or was only significant among children from the intervention group, the results do not confirm or refute the direct association reported in previous studies.