By Study Finds
Is soda and other sugary beverages the root cause of childhood obesity? A new study argues that there’s a strong link between the consumption of soda and obesity among teenagers in over 100 countries. The research, conducted across 107 nations worldwide, reveals that every 10-percent increase in daily soft drink consumption has a correlation with a 3.7-percent increase in the number of overweight and obese adolescents.
The findings highlight a strong connection between consistently drinking carbonated beverages and the risk of weight gain in adolescents. Niue, a small Pacific Island nation, had the highest prevalence of both overweight and obese youngsters, as well as the highest number of teens consuming at least one soft drink each day.
Given these results, the research team from Japan is emphasizing the importance of worldwide efforts to reduce soda consumption as a means of tackling childhood obesity, which they also call a “pandemic.”
The study was based on school surveys across the 107 countries, designed to measure the link between the consumption of sugary drinks and obesity among adolescents. Some of these countries have imposed taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages, while others have not.
The survey, which included 405,528 school-going adolescents, asked about each child’s consumption of “soft drinks.” These were defined as carbonated beverages that typically contain sugar, including well-known brands like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, as well as unbranded drinks. The teens were asked about their daily consumption of these drinks, as well as their intake of fruits and vegetables.
This data was then analyzed in conjunction with BMI figures to identify overweight and obese teens. The percentage of overweight and obese students varied greatly from country to country, ranging from 3.3 percent in Cambodia to a staggering 64 percent in Niue, which has a population of less than 2,000 (1,620 in 2018).
Similarly, the prevalence of adolescents consuming soft drinks once or more per day ranged from 3.3 percent in Iceland to 80 percent in Niue.
The authors of the study found a consistent trend across all nations: every 10-percent increase in the daily consumption of soft drinks led to a 3.7-percent increase in the prevalence of overweight and obese teens. Furthermore, the research indicated that taxes on soft drinks appeared to effectively reduce the consumption of these beverages among adolescents.
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“To the best of our knowledge, our study is the first to examine the association between soft drink consumption and overweight and obesity among school-going adolescents at both country and individual levels,” according to the study authors, led by corresponding author Dr. Huan Hu from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health in Japan, in the medical journal JAMA Network Open.
“Our study also found a statistically significant association between daily consumption of soft drinks and overweight and obesity among school-going adolescents. The soft drink tax has been implemented in over 50 countries worldwide to address the growing problems of obesity,” the team writes.
The team notes that a recent study found that the United Kingdom’s Soft Drinks Industry Levy, which is a two-tiered “sugar tax,” had an association with a drop in obesity rates among 5th grade girls.
“In the present study, we found that high-income countries were more likely to implement soft drink taxes compared with low- and middle-income countries (42.9% vs 21.5%),” the researchers write. “Furthermore, in countries with soft drink taxes, the prevalence of daily soft drink consumption among school-going adolescents was lower than in countries without such taxes (30.2% vs 33.5%).”
The study team concludes that by advising governments to take action by implementing taxes on sugary drinks in an attempt to curb obesity.
“These findings suggest that governments, particularly those in low- and middle-income countries, should take actions such as levying taxes on soft drinks to lower soft drink consumption or to reduce the amount of sugar consumption from soft drinks, to help curb the rapid increase in obesity,” Dr. Hu’s team concludes.
“Our study found that there was a significant association between the prevalence of daily soft drink consumption and the prevalence of overweight and obesity among school-going adolescents across countries and that the consumption of soft drinks accounted for approximately 12% of the variation in the overweight and obesity rate.”
“In conjunction with the evidence from prospective cohort studies and randomized trials, our findings support that reducing soft drink consumption should be a prioritized approach for curbing the pandemic of overweight and obesity among adolescents.”
South West News Service writer James Gamble contributed to this report.
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Source: Study Finds
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