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Sugary Drinks Confirmed as Obesity Cause in Major Studies
September 23, 2012

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Results of a trio of major studies support the theory that consuming sugary drinks helps children along the road to obesity.

The research, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, found a clear link between obesity and the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks.

One study, conducted by Vrije University in Amsterdam, found that during an 18-month trial, children who drank an 8-ounce can of sugar-free beverage every day gained less weight than children who drank an identically sized sugar-sweetened drink. Both groups of children gained weight, but those drinking the sugar-free drink gained, on average, 2.25 fewer pounds and 35 percent less body fat. Experts were quick to point out that the two-pound difference in weight gain was with a sample of 8 ounces and that children often drank far more than that in sugar-sweetened drinks every day.

Another study, run by doctors in and around Boston, had similar findings. Two groups of overweight teens were given different allotments: One group got home deliveries of bottled water and diet sugary drinks; the other group got $50 gift cards and were told to buy any kind of drink they wanted. The teens given the home deliveries reported a smaller weight gain, nearly half as much as the teens given carte blanche to consume sugary drinks. Further, the teens whose sugar consumption was restricted reported no such continuation of that sugar-free consumption after the study had ended. In fact, the opposite was true in that the teens reported a return to consumption of sugary drinks out of habit, a revisit by researchers found a corresponding weight gain.

The third study, conducted by scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health, examined the eating and drinking habits of tens of thousands of adults. After extensive questioning involving dozens of topics, including genetics and eating and exercise habits, the researchers concluded that the adults who consumed the most sugary drinks were the most likely to be overweight, especially if they were genetically predisposed to have a tendency toward obesity.

The studies will no doubt be welcomed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others in his administration who approved a ban on large-size sugary drinks in New York schools.

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