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Sweetened Beverages and Weight Problems

Sipping too many sugary drinks as a teen can lead to weight problems later.

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Young girls drinking sweetened beverages

Though data suggests that sugar intake from sweetened beverages has declined in children, adolescents and teens over the past two decades, sugar’s contribution to total daily calories remains above recommended levels. And consuming too many sugary beverages as a teen can set the stage for weight problems as a young adult. That’s the conclusion of a report published in The Journal of Nutrition.

The study found that individuals with consistently high sugar-sweetened beverage consumption (more than 1.3 servings per day) at ages 14 and 17 had significantly higher total body fat mass at age 20 than those with consistently low consumption patterns (less than 0.5 serving per day).

Intake of these sweetened beverages in servings per day (1 serving = 250 milliliters) was estimated using food frequency questionnaires at ages 14, 17 and 20. Body fat mass at age 20 was measured using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scanning (DXA). There was no association found for bone mass.

Since overweight and obesity into adulthood can set the stage for poor health, programs and policies aimed at continuing to chip away at the added sugar intake in youth (from drinks and foods) are still prudent.

See also: Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Drinks Down

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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