Food & Beverage Perspectives
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Children Who Reduce Sugary Drinks Increase HDL

<p>Conversations about sugar bring up a comprehensive list of topics&#0151;from diabetes, obesity and increased rates of depression to discussions about how the industry is struggling to meet consumers&#8217; demands for &#8220;healthier sweets." Science has already linked sugar-sweetened beverages to a greater cardiometabolic risk in adults. And now, a new study further underlines these findings and the various repercussions of sugar overconsumption, but in children.</p>

Conversations about sugar bring up a comprehensive list of topics—from diabetes, obesity and increased rates of depression to discussions about how the industry is struggling to meet consumers’ demands for “healthier sweets." Science has already linked sugar-sweetened beverages to a greater cardiometabolic risk in adults. And now, a new study further underlines these findings and the various repercussions of sugar overconsumption, but in children.

Researchers at Tufts University, Boston, investigated characteristics associated with drinking sugar-sweetened beverages in a cohort of children, 8 to 15 years old, and measured cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between sugar-sweetened beverages intake and plasma high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and triglycerides over a 12-month period (Am J Clin Nutr. Sept. 2, 2015).

Greater sugar-sweetened beverages intake was associated with lower socioeconomic status, higher total energy, lower fruit/vegetable intake and more sedentary time. In cross-sectional analysis, greater sugar-sweetened beverages intake was associated with higher plasma triglyceride concentrations among consumers; plasma HDL cholesterol showed no cross-sectional association. In the longitudinal analysis, mean sugar-sweetened beverages intake over 12 months was not associated with lipid changes; however, the 12-month increase in plasma HDL-cholesterol concentration was greater among children who decreased their intake by one or more servings per week compared with children whose intake stayed the same or increased.

The researchers concluded in this multiethnic sample of children, intake of sugar-sweetened beverages was positively associated with triglyceride concentrations among consumers, and changes in sugar-sweetened beverages intake were inversely associated with HDL cholesterol increases over 12 month. “Further research in large diverse samples of children is needed to study the public health implications of reducing sugar-sweetened beverages intake among children of different racial/ethnic groups," the researchers ended.

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