WEDNESDAY, May 11, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- The ballooning weight of American 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 obesity.
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 statement.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more information about childhood obesity.