Objective: We assessed whether sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption increases fatness in British children.
Methods: Data from a subsample of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children were analyzed. Diet was assessed at ages 5 y (n = 521) and 7 y (n = 682) using 3-d diet diaries. Beverages were categorized into SSB, low energy, fruit juice, milk, and water. Fat mass was measured at age 9 y using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. The association between consumption of SSB at each age and fatness was examined using linear regression adjusted for potentially confounding variables.
Results: SSB accounted for 15% of all drinks consumed and 3% of total energy intake at both ages. There was no evidence of an association between SSB consumption at 5 or 7 y of age and fatness at age 9 y. There was a small positive correlation between low-energy drinks at age 5 and 7 y and fatness at 9 y (age 5 y, rho = 0.21, P < 0.001; age 7 y, rho = 0.16, P < 0.001), which was explained by existing overweight status at ages 5 and 7 y.
Conclusion: In this cohort of British children there was no evidence of an association between SSB consumption at age 5 or 7 y and fatness at age 9 y. The positive relation between consumption of low-energy beverages and fatness at 9 y, which was explained by overweight status at 5 and 7 y, suggests that heavier children may consume low-energy beverages as part of an ineffective weight-control program.