In response to “Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and age at menarche in a prospective study of US girls,” a study published online today ahead of print in the journal Human Reproduction, the American Beverage Association issued the following statement:


“Neither this study nor the body of science shows that sugar-sweetened beverage consumption causes early onset of menarche. What the body of science supports is that adolescent girls are reaching puberty earlier than prior generations; however, there is no scientific consensus concerning the cause of this trend.”

Additional Background:

On the Study:

This study’s findings do not show cause and effect, but rather show an association.  Importantly, demonstrating association is not the same as establishing causation.  In fact, the author’s themselves note in their conclusions that sugar-sweetened beverages “may be associated with earlier menarche.” The authors used self-reported data and focused on sugars from beverages.  However, they did not look at all sources of sugars.  Government data has shown that food is the number one source of added sugars for children and adolescents. The study has limitations including: failing to consider socioeconomic status as a confounder; lack of data on sugar-sweetened beverage consumption prior to study participation;  lack of inclusion of hot sweetened beverages; failure to control for body mass index (BMI), which the authors label as an “intermediate” factor. The study’s authors found a significant trend effect for sugar-sweetened beverages, yet not for iced tea, which both contain sugar. While the authors acknowledge that physical activity plays a significant role in age of menarche, their analysis states that activity/inactivity is a covariate and does not assess amount of physical activity. While the early onset of menarche may increase risk for breast cancer, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages causes early onset of menarche.  Furthermore, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc., drinking soda or caffeine does not cause breast cancer.

On Sugar-Sweetened Beverages:

The body of science does not support the conclusion that sugar-sweetened beverages uniquely contribute to earlier menarche or any other adverse health outcome.  According to government data, sugar-sweetened beverages account for only six percent of calories in the average American diet.

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The American Beverage Association is the trade association representing the broad spectrum of companies that manufacture and distribute non-alcoholic beverages in the United States.  For more information on ABA, please visit the association’s Web site at or call the ABA communications team at (202) 463-6770.