The Association between Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption and Obesity-Related Health Risks in Children and Adolescents

  • Lauren Gleaves


Sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption has increased alongside childhood obesity rates over the past 40 years. SSBs are the largest contributor of added sugar in the American diet. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans emphasizes limiting consumption of added sugars to less than 10% of total daily calories. The purpose of this paper was to determine if there was an association between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and increased risk of obesity and related health risks in children and adolescents. Today, children and adolescents are consuming more SSBs and less water and milk. High consumption of SSBs in children is associated with lower consumption of protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Frequent SSB consumption is positively associated with not only weight gain and obesity, but also increased body mass index, waist circumference, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and heart disease. Liquid calories are less satiating and can cause overconsumption, which can lead to weight gain and accompanying chronic diseases over time. While consumption might be a contributing factor to childhood obesity and related health risks, it is more reasonable to state that SSB consumption characterizes overall dietary behaviors, which could be the cause of obesity outcomes. Since more than the recommended 10% of total daily calories are coming from SSB consumption, reducing such consumption should be a focus of childhood obesity prevention. Prevention of childhood obesity and its health risks should be the main goal of parents, educators, health care providers, and policymakers.

Human Ecology