Posted on Jul 28, 2023, 5 p.m.
A recent study suggests that there is a strong link between soda and obesity around the world. The findings of this study indicated this connection between the risk of weight gain in adolescents and consistently drinking carbonated beverages in research conducted across 107 nations, revealing that every 10% increase in daily soft drink/pop consumption is correlated with a 3.7% increase in the number of overweight and obese adolescents.
This study is based on school surveys conducted across the 107 countries which was designed to measure the links between consumption of sugary drinks and obesity among adolescents. Some of these countries have implemented taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages while others have not. The cross-sectional study included data from 405,528 school-attending adolescents and asked questions regarding their consumption of sugar drinks and consumption of fruits and vegetables. Soft drinks/soda were defined as being carbonated beverages including brand name as well as unbranded drinks.
The data was analyzed in conjunction with BMI figures to identify those who were obese and overweight, which varied greatly from country to country, running from 3.3% in Cambodia to 64% in Niue which has a population of less than 2,000. The prevalence of adolescents drinking 1 or more soft drinks a day ranged from 3.35 in Iceland to 80% in Niue.
According to the researchers, a trend was found across all nations suggesting that every 10% increase in daily consumption of these types of drinks led to a 3.7% increase in the prevalence of obese and overweight teens. The research also indicated that imposed taxes on these types of drinks appeared to effectively reduce the consumption of these beverages among adolescents. It was also noted that the two-tiered United Kingdom’s Soft Drink Industry Levy had an association with a decrease in obesity rates among 5th-grade girls.
“To the best of our knowledge, our study is the first to examine the association between soft drink consumption and overweight and obesity among school-going adolescents at both country and individual levels,” according to the study authors, led by corresponding author Dr. Huan Hu from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health in Japan, in the medical journal JAMA Network Open.
“Our study also found a statistically significant association between daily consumption of soft drinks and overweight and obesity among school-going adolescents. The soft drink tax has been implemented in over 50 countries worldwide to address the growing problems of obesity,” the authors write.
“In the present study, we found that high-income countries were more likely to implement soft drink taxes compared with low- and middle-income countries (42.9% vs 21.5%),” the researchers wrote. “Furthermore, in countries with soft drink taxes, the prevalence of daily soft drink consumption among school-going adolescents was lower than in countries without such taxes (30.2% vs 33.5%).”
“These findings suggest that governments, particularly those in low- and middle-income countries, should take actions such as levying taxes on soft drinks to lower soft drink consumption or to reduce the amount of sugar consumption from soft drinks, to help curb the rapid increase in obesity,” Dr. Hu’s team concludes.
“Our study found that there was a significant association between the prevalence of daily soft drink consumption and the prevalence of overweight and obesity among school-going adolescents across countries and that the consumption of soft drinks accounted for approximately 12% of the variation in the overweight and obesity rate.”
“In conjunction with the evidence from prospective cohort studies and randomized trials, our findings support that reducing soft drink consumption should be a prioritized approach for curbing the pandemic of overweight and obesity among adolescents.”
The researchers concluded that advising governments and policymakers to take action by implementing extra taxes on sugary drinks in an attempt to curb obesity is supported by current research as being effective, and will help to curb the ongoing obesity epidemic.
Note: The image was changed on 8/4/2023
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