Consumption of sugar sweetened beverages during pregnancy linked to childhood obesity

1. Higher consumption of sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) during pregnancy was associated with increased adiposity in childhood.

2. Sugary soda consumption by pregnant women, rather than fruit drinks or juice, was linked to an increase in BMI in children.

Evidence Rating Level: 1 (Excellent)

Study Rundown: Some researchers hypothesize that childhood obesity may be associated with maternal diet during pregnancy. Many studies have shown a positive correlation between obesity in the general population and the consumption of SSBs. With that background in mind, in the current study, researchers examined the potential connection between SSB consumption during pregnancy and subsequent rates of childhood obesity. Through food frequency questionnaires, results of this study demonstrated that higher consumption of SSBs during pregnancy was associated with increased adiposity in children. Data analysis showed that these findings were primarily due to consumption of sugary soda, not fruit drinks or juice and that results were driven by maternal, not child, consumption. Study limitations included use of dietary self-report and loss to follow-up, an inherent limitation of cohort studies. With findings relevant to many medical fields, practitioners should encourage their pregnant patients to refrain from SSB consumption in an effort to improve the health of their children.

Click to read the study, published today in Pediatrics

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In-Depth [prospective cohort]: Mother-child dyads were recruited via Project Viva, a longitudinal research study at Harvard aiming to improve the health of women and children. A total of 1078 participants were included in this cohort, with 68% being college educated, 61% with an annual household income greater than $70000, 32% being multi-racial or people of color, and with a mean BMI of 24.6. Maternal in-person study visits were conducted at the end of the first and second trimesters of pregnancy and child visits were completed in infancy, early childhood, and midchildhood. In addition, questionnaires were mailed to mothers to be completed at ages 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 years. Outcomes in this study were overall adiposity, which included mean BMI, fat mass index (FMI), and the sum of subscapular/triceps circumference (SS + TR) and central adiposity (waist circumference). Results of this study showed that intake of sugary beverages during the second trimester of pregnancy was related to overall child adiposity and central adiposity, with a mean BMI z score of 0.38. Each additional SSB serving was associated with an increased BMI z-score, (0.07U, 95%CI: -0.01 to 0.15), FMI (0.15 kg/m2; 95%CI: −0.01 to 0.30), SS + TR (0.85 mm; 95%CI: 0.06 to 1.64), and waist circumference (0.65 cm; 95%CI: 0.01 to 1.28). Through stratified data models, it was deduced that these associations were primarily due to maternal consumption, of sugary sodas during pregnancy.

Image: PD

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