Parents may be setting their daughters up for weight problems simply by allowing them to drink two or more sweetened drinks daily while young, study findings hint.
Higher sweetened beverage intake, such as sodas and fruit and sport drinks, at age 5 years was linked to more body fat during the following 10 years, Dr. Laura Fiorito, at The Pennsylvania State University in University Park, told Reuters Health in an email.
Higher body fat during the teen years has been tied to long-term overweight and other health problems such as diabetes and later heart disease, Fiorito and colleagues note in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Fiorito's team looked at what 166 non-Hispanic white girls drank between the ages of 5 and 15. They also measured their weight, height, and body fat.
Body fat and weight did not vary depending on how much milk or juice made from 100 percent fruit the girls drank.
By contrast, after allowing for other factors tied to weight and body fat levels, girls who drank two or more sweetened drinks daily had higher percentages of body fat, weighed more, and were more likely to be overweight than girls who drank lesser amounts of such beverages.
For example, of the 5 and 15 year old girls drinking less than one drink, the researchers found about 16 and 19 percent overweight, respectively. Among those drinking 2 or more sweetened drinks, about 39 percent were overweight at 5 years, while and 32 percent were the same when 15 years old.
Therefore, caregivers of young children should substitute sweetened drinks with reduced-fat milk and water, Fiorito and colleagues conclude.
SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, October 2009.