(HealthDay News) – For adults, children, and teens, drinking sugar-sweetened beverages correlates with increases in body mass index (BMI) and obesity, according to three studies published online Sept 21 in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with presentation at the annual meeting of The Obesity Society, held from Sept 20–24 in San Antonio, Texas.

Qibin Qi, PhD, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues examined the interaction between genetic predisposition and the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages in relation to BMI and obesity risk in three cohorts of adults. The researchers found that, in the combined cohorts, per increment of 10 risk alleles, the increases in BMI were 1 for <1 serving per month; 1.12 for 1–4 servings per month; 1.38 for 2–6 servings per week; and 1.78 for >1 servings per day; corresponding to relative risks of incident obesity of 1.19, 1.67, 1.58, and 5.06, respectively.

Janne C. de Ruyter, from the VU University in Amsterdam, and colleagues conducted an 18-month trial involving 641 mainly normal-weight children who were randomly assigned to receive 250ml of either a sugar-free beverage or a sugar-containing beverage per day. The researchers found that the z score for BMI increased by an average of 0.02 standard-deviation (SD) units in the sugar-free group, compared to 0.15 SD units in the sugar group. In an additional randomized controlled trial, Cara B. Ebbeling, PhD, from the Boston Children’s Hospital, and colleagues found that overweight and obese adolescents had a smaller increase in BMI compared with controls following a one-year intervention designed to decrease sugar-sweetened beverage consumption. This effect dissipated once the intervention ended.

“Taken together, these three studies suggest that calories from sugar-sweetened beverages do matter,” writes the author of an accompanying editorial.

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Several authors from the Qi study disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and nutrition industries.

Abstract – Qi
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Abstract – de Ruyter
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Abstract – Ebbeling
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