Children at preschool who are regularly given sugary drinks between meals are more likely to be overweight than their peers.
The empty calories from sugar-sweetened sodas and fruit drinks contribute to childhood obesity, but not all studies have found evidence to support this claim.
Researchers at the University of Ottawa looked at whether young children who regularly had sweet drinks between meals, specifically, were more likely to become overweight before the age of 5 years.
Mothers of 1,500 children were given detailed dietary questionnaires to complete when the children were 2.5, 3.5 and 4.5 years old. The children’s weight and height were measured at the age of 4.5 years.
In general, the study found that children who regularly had sugar-sweetened soda or fruit drinks for snacks—at least four to six times each week—were more than twice as likely to become overweight as children who had no sugary drinks between meals. This did not include children who drank only 100% pure fruit juice.