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Sugar-sweetened drinks: public enemy number one for weight gain

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The evidence linking sugar-sweetened drinks and weight gain has been growing for many years. Now the most comprehensive review to date has firmly laid the blame for these drinks as being a major culprit for weight gain.

Drinking too many drinks high in sugar is clearly not a good thing to do if someone was concerned about their weight. Both the kilojoule content and also the fact that it comes in liquid form which gives less of a feeling of fullness compared to solid food are likely reasons why drinking too much of them can cause weight gain.

After many years of accumulating solid observational evidence linking sugar-sweetened drinks to weight gain, supported by randomised controlled trials, there is now a clear case for cutting back on the consumption of these drinks.

From a meta-analysis involving over 200,000 adults and children, comprising 22 observational studies, and 10 randomised-controlled trials, the conclusion was stark in its message. For every single serve (340 mL) of sugar-sweetened beverage drunk per day, it added 0.06 units to the body mass index of children, and between 0.12 to 0.22 kilograms to the waistlines of adults over 1 year. These numbers may not seem like much, but when you multiply it out over several years, and indulge in more than one drink per day, the weight really starts to add up.

Adding even more gravitas to the findings, controlled intervention studies in children and adults saw weight go down when sugar-sweetened drinks were reduced and weight go up when they were added. Case closed.

What it all means
Sugar-sweetened drinks have no reasons for being a regular part of anyone’s diet. Cutting consumption of these drinks would be one of the top public health recommendations for controlling weight and preventing obesity.


Confused about the mixed soup of nutrition messages being stirred through the media? Tim maintains an active nutrition blog at where you'll find the latest nutrition research and controversies discussed in straight forward language, distilling out what you need to know for your better health.

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