Beverage intake at age 5 may predict weight in adolescence

November 16, 2009

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that higher sweetened beverage intake, such as sodas and fruit and sport drinks, at age 5 was linked to more body fat during the following 10 years. Higher body fat during the teen years has been tied to long-term overweight and other health problems such as diabetes and later heart disease. The researchers looked at what 166 Caucasian girls drank between the ages of 5 and 15. They also measured their weight, height, and body fat.

They found that body fat and weight did not vary depending on how much milk or juice made from 100% fruit the girls drank. However, after allowing for other factors tied to weight and body fat levels, girls who drank two or more sweetened drinks daily had higher percentages of body fat, weighed more, and were more likely to be overweight than girls who drank lesser amounts of such beverages. For example, of the 5 and 15 year old girls drinking less than one drink, the researchers found about 16% and 19% overweight, respectively. Among those drinking two or more sweetened drinks, about 39% were overweight at 5 years and 32% were the same when 15 years old. The researchers concluded by suggesting that caregivers of young children substitute sweetened drinks with reduced-fat milk and water.