Sugar-sweetened beverages

Anyone wondering why more than 23 million U.S. children and adolescents are overweight or obese can find the answer in a study published this month in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association

Researchers from the National Cancer Institute can sum it up in two words: empty calories. 

Here are the basic findings: 

  1. The top sources of energy for 2- to 18-year-olds were grain desserts, pizza and soda.
  2. Nearly 40% of total calories consumed by this age group came from solid fat and added sugars—half of which were associated with six foods: soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza and whole milk.
  3. Sugar-sweetened beverages (soda and fruit drinks combined) provided almost 10% of total calories consumed. 

Sugar-sweetened beverages are associated with “a constellation of cardiovascular risk factors, both independently and through the development of obesity,” according to an accompanying commentary by Rae-Ellen W. Kavey, MD, MPH, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. 

Photo: Michael Lehet