There is little or no connection between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and childhood obesity. A recent study indicates that these beverages are not the cause of increased weight gain in children and teenagers.
Researchers looked at data from 12 past studies in search of a connection between sugar-sweetened drinks and weight gain in children (this is known as a “meta analysis”). What they found was “virtually no association between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and weight gain in children and teens,” according to one of the studies authors, Dr. Maureen Story. She goes on to say that “the evidence strongly suggests that reducing or eliminating sugar-sweetened beverages would have almost no impact on children and teens weight.”
While these results seem to go against a common belief, what is essentially being concluded is that sweetened beverages are no more likely to cause weight gain than other forms of caloric intake. Whether excess calories are coming from fats, grains, or sugars (such as with sweetened beverages), weight gain will occur.
Sweetened beverages still pose a danger for juvenile diabetics, who have insufficient insulin in their bodies to control blood sugar levels naturally, but appear to not pose a notable increase of risk for obesity and related conditions (such as future cardiovascular disease), when consumed in moderation.
Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Story, Maureen. Halliday, Tracey. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition news release. June 2008.