Soft drinks boost kids’ sugar intake – but may not increase BMI


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Juices were the most popular beverage choice for girls and younger boys
Juices were the most popular beverage choice for girls and younger boys

Related tags Soft drinks Drink Alcoholic beverage Beverages

British schoolchildren get about 10% of their total energy from soft drinks – but new research suggests high consumption levels do not necessarily lead to higher BMIs.

Researchers from Cork Institute of Technology and London’s Roehampton University looked at the beverage consumption habits of 248 children aged 9-13 in southwest London. They found that soft drinks contributed an average of 10% of boys’ total energy, and 9% for girls. However, most children consumed more sugars than the recommended 90 g per day, with beverages contributing between a quarter and a third of all sugars.

“Despite the studies that have reported associations between increased soft drinks consumption and weight gain and/or obesity in adults, this finding has not been consistent,”​ the study’s authors wrote.

They pointed out that many studies linking soft drink consumption with weight are US-based, where beverages tend to contribute a greater proportion of calories to children’s diets.

“The present study aimed to report on the relationship between beverage consumption and BMI of British schoolchildren,”​ they wrote.

Girls of all ages preferred fruit juices and smoothies, and these were also the most popular beverage choice for nine- and ten-year-old boys. Soft drinks were the most popular beverage among 11-13-year-olds, and boys in this age group consumed significantly more soft drinks than girls or younger boys. Milk was the least popular drink among all children.

For nine- and ten-year-old boys, fruit juices and smoothies accounted for more than half of all the drinks they consumed.

“Our data did suggest that there was a positive relationship between beverages and energy intake and beverages and sugar intakes, but that there was no relationship of beverage consumption and choice of beverage on BMI,”​ the researchers found.

 “…Although fruit juices and smoothies can provide one of the five daily fruit and vegetables, the present study suggests that it may also be important to educate children, parents, teachers and catering staff on the energy and sugar contents of these drinks.”


Source: Public Health Nutrition

Vol. 16, Iss. 7, pp. 1244–1249 doi:10.1017/S1368980011002795

“Beverage consumption and BMI of British schoolchildren aged 9–13 years”

Authors: Tara Coppinger, YM Jeanes, M Mitchell and S Reeves

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