Do sugar-sweetened beverages promote weight gain in children and adults? Original paper

    In this meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies and randomized controlled trials, consuming sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with weight gain in children and adults.

    This Study Summary was published on May 12, 2023.

    Quick Summary

    In this meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies and randomized controlled trials, consuming sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with weight gain in children and adults.

    What was studied?

    The effect of consuming sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) on weight gain (BMI and body weight) in children and adults.

    Who was studied?

    The meta-analysis of cohort studies included 91,713 children (ages 0.5–17 years) and 448,661 adults (ages 18–75 years).

    The meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) included 2,783 children (ages 4–15 years) and 1,343 adults (ages 18–42 years).

    How was it studied?

    The researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 61 prospective cohort studies and 24 RCTs. The duration of the cohort studies ranged from 6 months to 30 years, and the duration of the RCTs ranged from 3 weeks to 16 months.

    In cohort studies, the association between SSB consumption and weight gain was assessed. Most cohort studies (84%) did not adjust for energy intake.

    In RCTs, the effects of adding or removing SSBs on weight gain were examined compared to a noncaloric control beverage. Subgroup analyses were conducted to examine whether age and diet quality influenced the outcomes.

    Regarding study location, 39 of the included studies were conducted in North America (46%), 28 in Europe (33%), 8 in Asia (9%), 5 in Australia (6%) and South America (6%), and 1 in South Africa (1%).

    What were the results?

    Among cohort studies, each daily serving of SSBs (12 ounces or 454 grams) was associated with a higher BMI in children (+0.07) and weight gain in adults (+0.42 kg) over the course of one year.

    Among RCTs, removing SSBs from the diet reduced BMI in children (−0.21) and body weight in adults (−0.49 kg). In contrast, adding SSBs to the diet led to weight gain in adults (+0.83 kg).

    In the subgroup analysis, adjusting the outcomes for age and diet quality influenced the outcomes. The associations between SSB consumption and weight gain were stronger in adults aged less than 45 and in children when the outcomes were not adjusted for energy intake.

    Anything else I need to know?

    This meta-analysis confirms and expands prior research showing that SSB consumption is not only associated with but also causes weight gain.

    However, it’s important to keep in mind that the effect of SSB consumption on weight gain was compared to a noncaloric control. Given that only a surplus of calories consumed can lead to weight gain, comparing SSB consumption against a calorie-equated control may dampen or eliminate the negative impact of SSBs on weight gain.

    This Study Summary was published on May 12, 2023.