Sugar babies

It is downright pathetic that I have to write about this problem again. Especially since I’ve been talking about it for years now.

But given the results of a recent study, clearly, it’s a message that bears repeating.

This should certainly come as no shock. But new research found that toddlers who drink sugar-sweetened beverages—like soda, sports drinks, and juice with added sugar—often end up fat.

And who is giving their children sugary drinks at that age? Oh, that’s right—just about everyone in this country. Despite the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises against it.

Not that the AAP didn’t take their sweet time issuing this recommendation. (Mostly due to mixed results in previous studies. I mean, really—sometimes I wish doctors would just use some common sense.)

Anyway, based on data from 9,600 children, nearly 10 percent of kids consumed one or more sugary drinks daily by age two. By the time children reached four years old, that number rose to 13 percent.

That means excessive weight gain from sugar-sweetened beverages will likely start setting in before a child even reaches kindergarten. And as we all know, it only gets worse from there.

According to this study, kids who drank sugar-sweetened beverages at two years of age gained weight at a faster rate. And by five years old, kids who still regularly downed sugary drinks were 43 percent more likely to be obese than children of the same age who didn’t.

Sad. But not surprising at all.

The researchers cite policy changes as one solution to this problem. Their suggestions include:

  • Instituting beverage recommendations in child care settings and teaching providers and kids how to recognize and make healthier choices
  • Finding ways to reduce kids’ access to sugary drinks in public areas like parks, vending machines, and restaurants.
  • Adding water to the government’s “My Plate” guidelines
  • Banning all marketing of sugar-sweetened beverages to children

Honestly, these are all complete no-brainers. So you know what? From these study authors’ lips to the government’s ears. Maybe this time, someone will actually be listening.

Especially considering results of another recent study exploring the effects of soda-drinking on this nation’s young kids…


“Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Weight Gain in 2- to 5-Year-Old Children.” Pediatrics. 2013 Aug 5.

“Soft Drinks Consumption Is Associated with Behavior Problems in 5-Year-Olds.” J Pediatr. 2013 Aug 19.