Soaring intakes of sugar-sweetened drinks are associated with increased calorie consumption of other foods such as sweets and pizza in children, warn researchers.
The new study examined whether consumption levels of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), such as soda or fruit juices with added sugar, is associated with changing patterns of solid food and non-SSB drink intake. The experts found that those who drink high levels of SSBs have an increased total calorie intake, including increased consumption of sugar and fat rich solid foods.
Led by researchers in the USA, the new data from more than 10,000 children suggests that drinking high levels of sugary sweetened drinks may be therefore be 'primarily responsible' for an increased daily caloric intakes in children when compared to those that do not consume SSBs.
"This is the first study to report the extent to which SSBs, food, and non-SSB beverage intakes contribute to higher caloric intakes," explained the researchers, led by Kevin Mathias from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA.
Writing in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the research team show that for all of the age groups analysed, the energy density (calories per gram) of food consumed increased in line with higher SSB intake. These findings suggest that higher consumption of SSBs is associated with consumption of foods with high caloric contents, said the lead researcher.
Mathais suggested that such a finding is 'concerning' given the fact that many foods that are found to be associated with higher SSB consumption - such as pizza, cakes, cookies, fried potatoes, and sweets - are also the top sources of solid fats and added sugars in the diet.
These high-fat and high-sugar dietary components are all foodstuffs that consumers have been advised to limit the intake of, he said.