Drinking fizzy pop is “inextricably linked” with obesity amongst teenagers around the world, according to a new study.
Data from 107 countries showed that every 10 percent increase in the prevalence of daily soft drink consumption amounted to a 3.7 percent increase in the prevalence of overweight and obese teens.
The research, published in the medical journal JAMA Network Open, suggests a correlation between the daily consumption of fizzy drinks and adolescents becoming obese and overweight.
“The region with the highest prevalence of both obese and overweight adolescents – as well as the highest number of adolescent students drinking at least one fizzy drink per day – was the tiny Pacific island nation of Niue,” said the research.
The research team concluded that reducing soft drink consumption across the world should be made a priority to curb the “pandemic” of obese and overweight adolescents.
The study used school-based surveys from 107 worldwide countries and nations to measure the correlation between fizzy drink consumption and obesity in adolescents.
Some of the countries looked at had imposed taxes on sugar-sweetened soft drinks, whilst some had not.
“A total of 405,528 school-going adolescents were asked about consuming soft drinks – defined as carbonated beverages typically containing sugar, including but not limited to brands such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi as well as unbranded drinks – one or more times a day, as well as how much fruit and veg they ate,” said the research.
The data was analyzed alongside BMI figures, identifying obese and overweight adolescent students.
The prevalence of overweight and obese school-going adolescents ranged from 3.3 percent in Cambodia to an astounding 64 percent in the small South Pacific island nation of Niue, which has a population of less than 2,000 (1,620 in 2018).
The prevalence of school-going adolescents consuming soft drinks one or more times per day also varied from 3.3 percent in Iceland to a high 80 percent, again in the tiny island nation of Niue.
The study authors found that, across all the nations, every 10 percent increase in the prevalence of daily soft drinks consumption led to a 3.7 percent increase in overweight and obese teens.
The research also showed that taxes on soft drinks seemed to work in helping to reduce fizzy drink consumption in adolescents.
Study corresponding author Dr. Huan Hu, of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health in Japan, said: “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.
“Our study also found a statistically significant association between daily consumption of soft drinks and overweight and obesity among school-going adolescents,” said the research.
“The soft drink tax has been implemented in over 50 countries worldwide to address the growing problems of obesity.
“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 percent compared to 21.5 percent.
“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 percent compared to 33.5 percent,” said the research.
The study team concluded by advising governments to take action by implementing taxes on fizzy drinks in an attempt to curb obesity.
“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,” said Dr. Hu.
“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 percent 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.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
Edited by Judy J. Rotich and Newsdesk Manager