Researchers call for action to be taken concerning sugar-sweetened beverages as the evidence of their harm on human health is strong – “we should avoid the trap of waiting for absolute proof before allowing public health action to be taken” (August 2013)

In August 2013 researchers from the USA published their review to assess whether there was sufficient scientific evidence to suggest that decreasing sugar-sweetened beverages consumption would reduce the incidence of obesity and its related disorders. It was stated that study findings have consistently shown a direct dose-response relationship between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and long-term weight gain and risk of diabetes type 2. A recently published review of studies commissioned by the World Health Organization has found that a decreased intake of added sugars significantly reduces body weight, whereas an increased sugar intake leads to weight increase. At the same time a further review of studies has also found that a higher intake of sugar-sweetened beverages among children is associated with 55% higher risk of being overweight or obese compared with those with a lower intake. It was also identified that 1-2 servings per day of sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with a 26% higher risk of developing diabetes type 2 compared with occasional intake (less than one serving per month). In addition two high quality studies have provided convincing data that reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages significantly decreases weight gain and body fat in children and adolescents. Taken together, the evidence that decreasing sugar-sweetened beverages will decrease the risk of obesity and related disorders such as diabetes type 2 is compelling. Several issues warrant further discussion. First, prevention of long-term weight gain through dietary changes such as limiting consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is more important than short-term weight loss in reducing the incidence of obesity. Second, we should consider the totality of evidence rather than selective pieces of evidence. Finally, while recognizing that the evidence of harm on health against SSBs is strong, we should avoid the trap of waiting for absolute proof before allowing public health action to be taken.

Hu FB et al. Resolved: there is sufficient scientific evidence that decreasing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption will reduce the prevalence of obesity and obesity-related diseases. Obes Rev. 2013 Aug;14(8):606-19

Leave a Reply