(HealthDay News) – Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption has been tightly linked to weight status among older children; children 5 years and younger who consume sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda or sports drinks are also more likely to become overweight or obese, according to a study published online Aug. 5 in Pediatrics.

Mark D. DeBoer, MD, from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and colleagues examined the association between consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight (as assessed by body mass index [BMI] z scores) in 9,600 children from 2–5 years of age.

The researchers found a significant association between greater consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and BMI z score at 4 and 5 years of age but not at 2 years of age. Compared with infrequent drinkers or nondrinkers, 5-year-olds who regularly consumed sugary beverages were at significantly greater risk of being obese (odds ratio, 1.43), and 2-year-olds drinking sugary beverages were significantly more likely to have greater increases in BMI z score over the next two years.

“Similar to what is seen among older children, children aged 2–5 years drinking sugar-sweetened beverages demonstrate both prospective and cross-sectional correlations with higher BMI z score,” DeBoer and colleagues conclude.

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