The ballooning weight of youth may be driven, at
least in part, by the sugary fizz of soda pop.
A new review of data and expert opinion suggests
soft drink consumption greatly increases the risk
of childhood obesity, according to researchers reporting
in the May issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.
For example, "the typical teen consumes approximately
two 12-ounce cans of soda per day, containing 300
calories and 20 teaspoons of sugar," study lead author
Dr. Robert Murray, of Columbus Children's Hospital
in Ohio, said in a prepared statement.
Current guidelines recommend a limit of 10 percent
of daily calories from added sugars, yet foods like
soft drinks now account for 18 to 20 percent of children's
daily calories, Murray's team reports.
The researchers reviewed various sources such as
articles, statements and editorials from researchers
and soft drink industry representatives. While no
single factor can be pinpointed as the sole cause
of childhood obesity, the review revealed a correlation
between soft drink consumption and the risk of childhood
The review found that children seem to be selecting
soft drinks or sweetened fruit drinks instead of milk.
Consumption of soft drinks in schools can lead to
obesity, according the American Academy of Pediatrics
Committee on School Health. However, one of the studies
in this review found that half of 523 school
districts surveyed had a contract with a soft drink
company in place. Two-thirds of those school districts
were given incentives by the soft drink company, while
nearly 80 percent of those school districts received
a percentage of soft drink sales.
Schools should "strengthen existing programs such
as the school breakfast program, the national school
lunch program, classroom nutrition instruction, daily
physical fitness instruction, intramural sports, and
after-school programs," instead of signing contracts
with soft drink companies, Murray said in a prepared
The American Obesity Association outlines how to