In response to “Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Weight Gain in 2- to 5-Year-Old Children,” a study published today in the journal Pediatrics, the American Beverage Association issued the following statement:


“Overweight and obesity are caused by an imbalance between calories consumed from all foods and beverages (total diet) and calories burned (physical activity).  Therefore, it is misleading to suggest that beverage consumption is uniquely responsible for weight gain among this group of children, especially at a time in their lives when they would normally gain weight and grow.”

Additional Background:

On the Study:

Since this is epidemiological research, this study cannot show cause and effect.  The authors themselves state only that there was an association. Furthermore, the authors admit that their study had several limitations, including:  1) beverage consumption was based on parental reports and not observation, 2) they did not have complete dietary information, and therefore could not assess overall calorie intake and 3) they failed to have data on physical activity. In fact, even the adjusted analysis is significant only for overweight 4-year-olds and obese 5-year-olds; yet, there is no adjustment for dietary intake. A recent meta-analysis by Te Morenga et al that evaluated results of randomized intervention trials conducted to date in populations of children (sponsored by the World Health Organization) found no relationship between sugar-sweetened beverage intake and weight gain in children.  These authors found a small association in cohort studies with children.  However, it is well accepted that randomized intervention trials provide superior evidence to cohort trials. This group of children was studied at a time when they would normally gain weight and grow.


On Caloric Intake:

Importantly, USDA data shows that calorie increases in the diet come from “added fats and oils along with refined grains.” In fact, according to that data, added fats and oils contributed five times the amount of increased calories as all sweeteners, including those used in cookies, cakes and other desserts in addition to sugar-sweetened beverages. In addition, since 2001, while childhood obesity rates have continued to climb, sugar-sweetened beverage consumption has declined during the same time period.

# # #

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.