The Negative Impact of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages on Children's Health

A Research Synthesis

Over nearly the past 30 years, U.S. children and adolescents have dramatically increased their consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), including soda, fruit drinks and punches, and sports drinks. Such consumption has been linked to less healthy diets and a number of other negative health consequences, including decreased bone density, dental decay, headaches, anxiety and loss of sleep. Interventions to lower SSB consumption have been linked to lower risk of overweight among normal-weight adolescents, and weight loss among overweight adolescents. This research synthesis examines the evidence regarding the various health impacts of SSB consumption, presents initial conclusions based on these studies, and identifies areas for further research.

Key Findings:

  • In 2004, adolescents consumed an average of 300 calories per day from SSBs, accounting for 13 percent of their daily caloric intake.
  • SSB consumption leads to excess caloric intake and weight gain, as well as increased obesity rates among children and adolescents.
  • Substituting other beverages, such as water, for SSBs could reduce over-consumption of calories and improve nutrition.

The researchers conclude that reducing SSB consumption would reduce the risk of childhood obesity and many other health problems, including type 2 diabetes. There is a need for more research to determine which interventions and policy approaches could reduce SSB consumption among children and youth.