Sugar consumption in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) has steadily increased throughout the world, which has resulted in some public health concerns. High-level SSB consumption has been associated with a number of negative health outcomes, including weight gain and obesity, type II diabetes, tooth decay, and cardiovascular disease. Concerns have also been raised about the effects of SSBs on bone health, since the high levels of sugar, phosphoric acid, and acidity of these beverages could all potentially exert negative effects. Researchers conducted a meta-analysis to examine the association between SSB consumption and bone health.

    The study

    A total of 26 studies and 124,691 participants were included in this meta-analysis. The studies varied in their focus: 21 of the studies evaluated the effects of carbonated soft drinks, 4 of the studies more broadly investigated sugar sweetened beverages, and 1 study examined the effect of coffee with sugar and syrup. In addition, 8 of the studies examined the effect of SSB consumption in children and adolescents. Subgroup analyses were also conducted to determine whether any detected associations on bone mineral density (BMD) were affected by age, sex, type of SSBs consumed, or the bone site sampled.

    The results

    There was a significant association between SSB intake and decreased bone mineral density in adults. Although 8 of the reviewed studies recruited children, the methods and study designs were too inconsistent to conduct a meta-analysis. A qualitative analysis of the collective results in children suggested that SSBs had a negative effect on BMD in children as well. The subgroup analysis indicated that there was a moderate decrease in bone mineral density in women and a moderate to large effect on BMD in participants under 50. High consumption of carbonated beverages also had a moderate detrimental effect on BMD. The sampled bone site had a large effect on whole-body BMD estimations, indicating that the sampling site is an important consideration when comparing results from dissimilar studies.

    This Study Summary was published on June 4, 2021.