There is hardly anything new about the uproar in health community against consumption of soda and energy drinks. It has been established several times by several studies that drinking fizzy high calorie drinks contain ingredients including acids that are harmful for human health in more than one ways. Health lobbies have been raising their voices and urging the governments in various countries to implement new rules to restrict sale of these drinks. Now, the opponents of soda beverages have one more reason to rejoice and raise their pitches against soft drink makers. The findings of a recent study hint that giving soft drinks to kids on a daily basis can make them prone to developing obesity in near future.
The worrisome finding is that giving such drinks to kids who are barely old enough to attend kindergarten classes can result in making them prone to obesity in long run. There is no denying the reality that in last few years, childhood obesity has reached alarming proportions in the USA. While factors like fast food eating and lack of exercise are also blamed for this rise, health experts think sugary drink consumption is a major culprit. Dr. Mark DeBoer, the lead author of this study and a University of Virginia pediatrician, said though kids get small amount of extra calories through sugar-sweetened beverages, that does play a role in extra weight gain later. The study finding was published in Pediatrics journal in recent times.
The researchers observed 9,600 kids aged below 5 years for this study. Their parents were also interviewed to get the details of the kids eating and lifestyle habits. The juices involved in the study were fruit drinks, sports drinks and sodas. It was found by the study authors that the BMI of a kid was higher if he drank more sugary beverages. They also figured out 5 year old kids who drank sugary drinks regularly were prone to become obese more than others who did not. When they analyzed sugary drink intake habits of 2 year old children, they found those kids could undergo BMI increases in next 2 years, which would lead to obesity eventually. Even 4 year old study candidates had elevated rate of obesity compared to their peers who drank less.
The study author and his team members said parents and caregivers need to discourage kids from drinking much sugary drinks. It is better to motivate them to drink calorie free drinks like low fat milk and healthier beverages. It can be a small but effective step against the menace of childhood obesity, said the lead author. The study findings have got support from experts who were not a part of this study. It was found that kids who drank soda or sugary drinks had overweight mother and watched TV for more hours than others. The fact that kids addicted to drinking sugary drinks were less inclined to drink milk can pave way for nutritional deficit and allied health issues, noted the researchers.
NYC’s Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health’s assistant professor Dr. Y. Claire Wang said this study corroborates the previous belief in health experts abut harmful effects of soda drinking in young population. As expected, the American Beverage Association sounded ruffled in its reaction to the study findings. The association which represents the soda manufacturers said in its reaction that there are several limitations in the study. They said that the overall dietary habits of those kids have not been studies in detail. The study, as per their views, does not prove a direct cause and effect equation between childhood obesity and consumption of sugary drinks and soda. The ABA added that it is not right to insinuate sugary drink consumption is singularly responsible for obesity in kids. However, this is not the first time that the ABA has reacted sharply to a study that points out the harmful effects of soda drinking on human health.
The researchers said that children who intake sports drinks and other drinks with additional sugar quotient are also at risk. However, drinking milk can make one feel full and he or she will feel less inclined to gorge on foods. They also think whole fruits are better for kids than fruit juices as far as fighting obesity is concerned. However, banning all sweet drinks for kids is not realistic, say the researchers. These drinks can be offered to them only occasionally to keep obesity at bay. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the organization that owns journal Pediatrics advises young kids should not be given sugary drinks.
A section of health experts however are a tad skeptic of the accuracy of the results of this study. They point out the fact that Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey which was used by the study authors was based on answers given by the parents of the kids. This leaves a room for inaccuracy of data. It is possible that those kids actually consumed more beverages than what the parents observed. The physical activity levels of these kids were not monitored in the study as well. These factors can play a role in weight gain, as it is evident.
A complementary editorial was published in the same journal by Lorrene Ritchie and Dr. Anisha Patel. They mention discussion on sugary drink consumption and its impact in kids have not been highlighted enough. Beverage policies have been framed with focus on workplaces and schools.