Eliminating soda cuts childhood obesity

April 28, 2004 in Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News

Eliminating soda cuts childhood obesity

Ditching fizzy drinks could help to prevent childhood obesity, researchers from England said last week. They found that just cutting down on carbonated drinks limited children's obesity rates.

Rather than targeting multiple areas such as food, drink and exercise to prevent childhood obesity, the team decided to focus on just one - carbonated drinks. Soft drinks contain large amounts of energy, in the form of sugar, which is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. If the child doesn't expend this energy, the additional calories get stored as fat.

In a study of 650 schoolchildren, ages 7 to 11, half of the youngsters cut their consumption of soft drinks by half a glass a day, about 250 mL (9 ounces). The other half, a control group, drank about 0.2 glasses more a day in addition to their average of about two glasses every three days.

By the end of the school year the percentage of overweight and obese children in the control group rose by 7.6 percent but fell 0.2 percent in the children who cut sugary drinks. Instead of consuming carbonated drinks, the children were encouraged to drink diluted fruit juices or water.

Children who are overweight or obese tend to carry the excess weight into adulthood and face an increased risk of suffering from diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer.

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