A Randomized Trial of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Adolescent Body Weight

A study to assess the effect on adolescent weight gain of an intervention to replace sugar-sweetened beverages in the homes of overweight and obese adolescents found that the intervention improved participants’ diet and body weight at one year, but did not improve body weight or BMI over two years.

The authors randomly assigned 224 overweight and obese adolescents who consumed sugary beverages to experimental and control groups; the experimental group received the one-year intervention and one year of follow-up without the intervention. The intervention replaced sugar-sweetened beverages with noncaloric beverages in participants’ homes.

Participants’ reported consumption of sugary beverages was 1.7 servings per day in both groups at baseline. At year one, the experimental group’s consumption of sugary beverages was almost zero, and remained lower than the control group’s at two years. At year one, there were significant differences between groups in both weight and body-mass index (BMI), but the groups’ BMI did not significantly differ at two years. There was, however, a significant difference in BMI and body weight at both years one and two among Hispanic participants.

The authors suggest that the lack of difference between the groups at two years could result from the experimental group’s increasing consumption of sugary beverages post- intervention, or unrelated attempts to remove sugary beverages from schools.