Study: Sugary drinks can make kids obese

Warning: Walking and texting may lead to bad parenting. (Reuters photo)

Warning: Walking and texting may lead to bad parenting. (Reuters photo)

The next time you add a heaping helping of sugar to your child’s 64-ounce Mello Yello to keep him amped enough to finish Skyrim in one sitting, keep the findings of a recent study in mind: Sugary drinks can make kids obese.

While it has been scientifically proven that sugary drinks — sodas and ’sports’ drinks but hopefully not sweet tea — can cause obesity in adults and teens, it seems no one had ever gotten a grant to study the effects of high fructose corn syrup chugging on younger humans.

Until Dr. Mark DeBoer from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville came along that is.

His quote may startle the parents of chubby children: “[The] additional amount of calories did contribute to more weight gain over time,” said DeBoer.

The study looked at 9,600 children born in 2001. Researchers checked up on the kids when they were 2, 4 and 5 years old.

About 10 percent of the children consumed a sugary drink each day.

Researchers said 5-year-olds who had at least one sugary drink each day were 43 percent more likely to be obese than those who didn’t. In all, about 15 percent of the 5-year-old children were considered obese. (The CDC says more than a third of all adults are obese.)

The obese children were more also likely to have an overweight mother and watch at least two hours of TV each day at age four and five, Reuters reports.

Researchers say sugary drinks don’t satisfy the appetite like foods with proteins and fat, so people keep consuming more calories.

Dr. Y. Claire Wang, who studies childhood nutrition and obesity at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York, said she, like most of humanity, wasn’t surprised by the findings.

“This is really just adding to the evidence we already know that [drinking] sugar-sweetened beverages in childhood is associated with weight gain. It’s definitely one of the major, if not the main, driver in childhood obesity,” Wang, who wasn’t involved in the new research, said.

DeBoer suggests kids stick to water and milk.

Wang recommended whole fruits over fruit drinks and juices, which often have added sugar.

The soda industry says obesity is due to an imbalance between calories consumed and calories burned.

In other news, kids don’t go outside like we used to.

22 comments Add your comment


August 5th, 2013
8:18 am

Children need to eat sponges. They are both healthy and delicious. Here’s a good recipe for sponges: Take one used kitchen sponge and soak it in bleach for three minutes. After soaking rinse the sponge in cold water and place in a sunny spot to dry for ten or so minutes. Place sponge on small plate and pour one tablespoon of mineral oil over sponge, wait until it all soaks in. Add a dollop of catsup, and voila, sponge is ready to serve to your child.

George Mathis

August 5th, 2013
8:49 am

Hmmm … where do sponges fit in the food pyramid?

Tony Horton

August 5th, 2013
9:48 am

It’s NOT the sugary drinks that makes kids fat. It’s sitting on their keesters playing video games, texting, Instagramming, watching TV, doing non-athletic activities thats “making” them fat. Drink 300 calories, but don’t burn it off? DUH!!! Used to be that kids played outside, rode bikes, etc. No longer. See any fat kids running cross-country? Yah…didn’t think so.


August 5th, 2013
9:54 am

I think Charles Barkley put it best when he said drinking soda is like eating cake though a straw .


August 5th, 2013
10:22 am

Jim Brown had a line a few months ago regarding concussions. It was something to effect of “I didn’t run into people head first. That just didn’t seem like a good idea.” DUH!!!!!

Same thing regarding sugary drinks. We really needed a study to tell us that drinking too much sugar was a bad thing? Not to mention the fact that your dentist has been telling you this for decades.

When are people going to go back to common sense? Us intelligent people didn’t need a professor to tell us that more soda calories could lead to weight gain. We knew that was true with ALL foods.


August 5th, 2013
11:06 am

Oh please! When I was a kid in the 60’s we drank all that stuff too plus ate hotdogs and pizza and candy. There were no obese kids in my neighborhood and only one or two at school. Why? We were in constant motion, that’s why. We ran and played sports and chased each other all over the neighborhood plus once we got to high school we had mandatory gym classes that were more like boot camps which is why many of us were in top shape condition when we graduated. There’s no mystery here. The problem is more and more kids (adults too) sitting on their behinds more and more which results in…great shock here!….the fattest nation on the planet! Can’t wait for the next breathless revelation…….Studies show milkshakes and pizza make you fat! Wow! Who would have thought?!!! I swear, we just get more stupid with each passing day. Ugh!

I dropped my fried twinkie

August 5th, 2013
11:12 am


Kids sitting on their BUTT playing on the TV or Computer makes kids FAT.
I drive for my Job. I never see kids on Bikes in neighborhoods.
I don’t see them playing BBall in the driveway.
I don’t see them playing stickball/baseball in neighborhoods.

When we were kids we left the house by 9-10 am and didn’t come until the street light came on.

Don’t give me crap it is too HOT outside either. Hot make s you sweat and lose weight from those soft drinks.

Don’t give me crap that is NOT SAFE either. Your kids can’t get street smart playing inside.

You parents are letting your children down and the next generation will NEVER be ready to work HARD enough to pay this DEBT we are passing on to them.

I dropped my fried twinkie

August 5th, 2013
11:17 am

They make Stationary Bikes that run Generators to create Electricity to power home appliances.

If you have KIDS BUY ONE.
Hook the Video Games, Computer, TV, Cellphone Chargers and any item they LOVE to the Stationary Bike Generator. If they want to use it then get on that bike and Ride.


August 5th, 2013
11:36 am

@centrist…well @everyone thus far = I agree with everyone it’s not the drink it’s the non-existence of excercsing, playing, running, etc and not going home until the street lights pop on…


August 5th, 2013
12:22 pm

All of you who are saying it’s not diet it’s lack of physical activity that’s causing obesity in kids are plain old wrong. Well, I take that back, you’re not on the right track.

Have you ever heard the expression “You can’t outrun a bad diet.”?

It means no matter how much exercise you do if you have a poor diet you will have the related poor health outcomes. Body composition is controlled primarily from diet, not exercise.

Exercise will make your heart healthier, your skeleton stronger, and your muscles stronger. It has little impact on how fat you are.

The reason you remember eating craptastic food and not being fat as a kid is (1) food was less processed “back in the day”, (2) portion sizes of food, in general, were smaller, (3) you didn’t eat as much junk food as you think you did.

You want to know what a more interesting research question is?

What do the livers of children look like? What is the prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver in children today?

Because non-alcoholic fatty liver comes from a diet high in sugar, especially fructose. And no amount of exercise will matter to the liver if you have a high sugar diet.

Stating the Obvious

August 5th, 2013
12:25 pm

My first thought was – clearly a taxpayer-funded study. Time to end all government grants for crap like this.

Peach that Left

August 5th, 2013
12:30 pm

Thank you iRun!


August 5th, 2013
12:33 pm

@Stating the Obvious -

See, you’re wrong. For years and years and years people have believed that kids could get away with crappier diet then their adult counterparts. It’s true that your metabolism is higher when you’re growing then when you’re grown. But is it true that it’s high enough for a free-for-all?

Seems like the answer should be “No duh.”

But look at all these responses. How many here are saying it’s not the diet that’s the problem but rather the lack of exercise. And they’re wrong. And here is the evidence to show them it’s actually diet.

Now, you have “proof” (aka, scientific evidence) to show parents and doctors they actually do need to watch their kids’ diets. Now, when they say, “Oh, they’re kids, they’ll burn it off. It’s just puppy fat.” you can say, “Nope, look at this study…it’s something you need to be concerned with.”

This study is the science version of “Show me the money.”


August 5th, 2013
12:34 pm

Kevin Perry

August 5th, 2013
12:38 pm

Overweight and obesity are caused by an imbalance between calories consumed from all foods and beverages (total diet) and calories burned (physical activity). Therefore, it is misleading to suggest that beverage consumption is uniquely responsible for weight gain among this group of children, especially at a time in their lives when they would normally gain weight and grow.


August 5th, 2013
12:59 pm

These researchers have a keen grasp of the obvious. I can see it now – we need to do a study or we lose our grant money. Hey – I got it, do kids who drink sugary soda get fat – that’s the ticket. We can screw around for several weeks and then just make up some crap that no one will argue with and collect the grant money – sweet.


August 5th, 2013
1:22 pm

“…said she, like most of humanity, wasn’t surprised by the findings.”

Like the previous poster said, didn’t most of us already understand that excessive sugar intake leads to obesity? This is another one of those answer-a-question-that-no one-asked studies that was probably funded by the government.

Frankie Baby

August 5th, 2013
1:23 pm

so far both sides are right.

I am 50 and in the last 40 years the amount of prepackaged processed food has exploded…when I was 10 we ate a PBJ or (leftover ham) sandwich and and an apple for lunch…now its 4 different prepackaged items that have been infused with salt or hfcs or both all washed down with a coke or (for the parents that think they are helping) gatorade or fruit juice…most of my hydration from the age of 8 to 14 came from garden hoses in my neighborhood.

Kids need to move…they need to play…not organized activities but just play…I bet we burned a 1000 calories a day digging giant meaningless holes in the woods…they also need to play pick up games, it is truly where kids learn how to be team players and leaders…when you are the younger kid in the neighborhood you get picked last and you get the crappy position…as you get older you have to figure out how to enforce your own rules…you argue, someone threatens to quit…but you figure it out…you developed SELF esteem by yourSELF! Now parents coddle and protect there kids and try to infuse their self esteem…and then wonder why their kids are 14 years old, 60 pounds over weight, lazy and not motivated.

a lot of you drank from hoses and you know who you are…….

Thats all I got


August 5th, 2013
2:20 pm

iRun, we’re both right, but I respectfully disagree with the statement that exercise has little impact on how fat someone is. Even with a less than stellar diet one is still burning off those calories with steady exercise that includes weight and cardiovascular training. People might still be overweight but with a regular exercise program there would not be nearly as many morbidly obese people as there now are. You’ve got to move it to lose it.

mystery poster

August 5th, 2013
2:59 pm

From the TIME magazine article “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin” Aug 2009.
(I can’t link to the entire article, you need to log in as a subscriber).

“In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless,” says Eric Ravussin, chair in diabetes and metabolism at Louisiana State University and a prominent exercise researcher. Many recent studies have found that exercise isn’t as important in helping people lose weight as you hear so regularly in gym advertisements or on shows like The Biggest Loser — or, for that matter, from magazines like this one.

The basic problem is that while it’s true that exercise burns calories and that you must burn calories to lose weight, exercise has another effect: it can stimulate hunger. That causes us to eat more, which in turn can negate the weight-loss benefits we just accrued. Exercise, in other words, isn’t necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even be making it harder.

Read more:,9171,1914974,00.html#ixzz2b7uLvW58


August 5th, 2013
4:35 pm

@centrist -

To an extext exercise can mitigate a bad diet. But exercise cannot negate a bad diet. If morbidly obese people keep eating the way they do and start walking on a treadmill every day they may lose a little bit of weight. But they won’t lose enough weight to be at a healthy weight until they change their diet.

I know when I marathon train I sometimes gain about 5lbs because running 50-70 miles/week makes my appetite increase and, without realizing it, I begin eating more than normal. You’d *think* running 50 miles in a week (thus burning 5000 calories) would mean I could eat more. But it doesn’t. There’s a limit to the “calorie bank”.

I’m not alone in experiencing that. Nearly every long distance runner I know has fallen into the same calorie trap.

To the core of this article and the study – kids are consuming waaaaay more refined sugars now then they were when I was a kid. And it shows. Exercise won’t change the bad impact of a bad diet.

And exercise won’t at all, never ever, mitigate a fatty liver.

Don’t get me wrong. Exercise is good for everyone, regardless of diet. But it’s not enough.


August 6th, 2013
8:36 am

High Fructose Corn Syrup is not sugar. Sugar is made from sugar cane, a natural product. HFCS is a twice-genetically modified chemical sludge, unfit for human consumption. But it saves the soft drink oligopoly billions of dollars to push that onto Americans rather than sugar; and, of course, when that kind of money is involved, the FDA will bow to the lobbyists and approve anything. The mightily powerful Coca-Cola suppresses any adverse literature condemning the dangers of HFCS; in fact, my post will probably be deleted. Through their influence, along with their cute Santa Clause and Polar bear ads, they have managed to brainwash the nation into routinely equating HFCS with sugar, just as the author of this article has done. He mentioned the word “sugar” seven times, but only mentioned HFCS once.

Americans used to drink Coke in moderation, and hardly anyone was obese. Remember the little 6-1/2 once bottles? Now a small coke is 20 ounces, and instead of containing natural sugar cane sugar, as it used to (and still does in other countries), it’s now full of unnatural, chemical sludge. They sell it in such huge quantities because they’ve got so much of this cheap crap they don’t know what to do with it. A small coke at the movie theater now weighs about three pounds. If you ask for a small they’re actually trained to try to sell you a larger drink because “you get more for less.” And yes, it’s the chemical found in HFCS, not sugar, that suppresses the brain’s sense that the stomach is full.

But synonymously referring to HFCS as being in the general category of “sugar” is exactly what the soda industry wants good little reporters to do. They want us all to buy the polar bear stuff, consume gallons of coke a day, get fat and stay ignorant of what they’re feeding us.

I still enjoy a coke occasionally. A Mexican coke.