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Keywords:

  • beverages;
  • body fat;
  • body weight;
  • liquid energy;
  • solid energy;
  • sugar-sweetened beverages

Abstract

Background

The debate about whether energy consumed in liquid form is more obesogenic than energy consumed in solid form remains equivocal. We aimed to evaluate the effects of liquid versus solid energy intake and different beverage types on changes in childhood adiposity.

Methods

Our analyses included 8-year-old Australian children (n = 158) participating in the Childhood Asthma Prevention Study. Dietary information was collected using three 24-h recalls at age 9 years. Multivariate linear regression was used to evaluate the effects of liquid versus solid energy intake and different beverage types on changes in body mass index (BMI) Z-score from ages 8 to 11.5 years (△BMIz8–11.5y) and percentage body fat (%BF) at age 11.5 years (%BF11.5y). Substitution models were used to evaluate the effects of substituting other beverage types for sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB).

Results

Liquid energy intake (1 MJ day–1) was more closely associated with both △BMIz8–11.5y (β = 0.23, = 0.02) and %BF11.5y (β = 2.31%, = 0.01) than solid energy intake (△BMIz8–11.5y: β = 0.12, = 0.01 and %BF11.5y: β = 0.80%, = 0.07). SSB consumption (100 g day–1) was directly associated with △BMIz8–11.5y (β = 0.08, = 0.02) and %BF11.5y (β = 0.92%, = 0.004),whereas diet drinks (100 g day–1) were inversely associated with △BMIz8–11.5y (β = 0.18, = 0.02). Substitution of 100 g of SSB by 100 g of water or diet drink, but not other beverages, was inversely associated with both △BMIz8–11.5y and %BF11.5y (< 0.01).

Conclusions

Our findings indicate that liquid energy is more obesogenic than solid energy. In particular, SSB, but not other beverage types, are a significant predictor of childhood adiposity and replacing SSB with water can have long-term beneficial effects on childhood adiposity.