Association of Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Frequency with Adiposity: Evidence from the "Children of 1997" Birth Cohort

Nutrients. 2020 Apr 7;12(4):1015. doi: 10.3390/nu12041015.


Background: Observationally, sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption is associated with adiposity in Western children but could be confounded. We examined the association of SSB frequency with adiposity in the non-Western setting of Hong Kong.

Methods: We examined the associations of SSB consumption frequency at 11 and 13 years assessed by using a food frequency questionnaire with subsequent body mass index (BMI) z-score and overweight/obesity up to 18 years using generalized estimating equations, and with waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, and body fat percentage at 16-19 years using linear regression in a population-representative Chinese birth cohort "Children of 1997" (n = 3628).

Results: At 11 and 13 years, 6.8% and 8.2% of children respectively consumed SSB daily. Neither SSB frequency at 11 nor at 13 years was associated with subsequent BMI z-score or overweight/obesity up to 18 years, or with waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, or body fat percentage at 16-19 years adjusted for age, sex, socioeconomic position, health status, physical activity and other food consumption, although bias to the null from under-reporting cannot be eliminated.

Conclusion: Although we cannot definitively exclude a small association of SSB frequency with adiposity, lack of association of SSB frequency with adiposity in a non-Western setting with low SSB consumption suggests that the role of SSB in adiposity appears to be minor.

Keywords: adiposity; children; sugar-sweetened beverages.

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pediatric Obesity* / epidemiology
  • Pediatric Obesity* / metabolism
  • Pediatric Obesity* / pathology
  • Pediatric Obesity* / physiopathology
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Sugar-Sweetened Beverages / adverse effects*