The prevalence of obesity has been increasing significantly among children and adolescents, not just in developed countries but also in developing countries with rapid changes in nutrition. The increase consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages entitled under soft drinks are particularly a cause for concern and considered as a potential contributor to the obesity.
A recent research that published in The New England Journal of Medicine shows that sugar-sweetened beverages and high-fructose corn syrup have been linked to increased dietary complications among the obese and those at risk of obesity.
Most sugar-sweetened beverages are marketed towards youth and adolescent populations and are not seen as important health and social issues. Sugar intake from sugar-sweetened beverages alone, which are the largest single caloric food source in the United States, approaches 15% of the daily caloric intake in several population groups. The widespread availability of these products, along with social negligence of the harmful effects of high-fructose corn syrup and other sugar sweeteners has made the obesity epidemic much harder to control.
This is a warning sign and evidence for the other countries set for obesity epidemic. Unlike carbohydrates with high fiber content, sugar-sweetened beverages are nutrient-poor and are often associated with consumption of salty foods and fast foods. An emerging association between the increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart attack is a major concern.
Studies have suggested that masked replacement of a sugar-containing beverage (104 kcal) with a sugar-free beverage significantly reduced weight gain and fat accumulation in normal-weight children.
The bottom line is calories from sugar-sweetened beverages do matter. Policy decisions about sugar-sweetened beverages should not be considered in isolation. Other strategies to achieve and maintain normal weight, including increasing physical activity, will be important to stem the obesity epidemic and its effects.
The time has come to take action and strongly support and implement the recommendations to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in both children and adults.
The write up is based on editorial of The New England Journal of Medicine compiled by Dr Shahjada Selim, working at the Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, BIRDEM Hospital.