Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Play Large Role In Worldwide Obesity Epidemic Interview with:
“Soda” by Jannes Pockele is licensed under CC BY 2.0Maria Luger, MSc
Special Institute for Preventive Cardiology And Nutrition
Spendenbegünstigte Einrichtung gem. FW 1914/19.3.2005
Vorstand: Univ.-Prof. Prim. Dr. Friedrich Hoppichler
Salzburg, Austria What is the background for this study?

Response: Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975. Rising consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) has been a major contributor to the obesity epidemic and it increases the risk of diabetes or cardiovascular disease, as previous evidence has shown. Partly inconsistent findings from previous reviews have fueled discussions on the impact of SSBs on obesity development.

Therefore, the aim of our review was to systematically review the recent evidence in children and adults. What are the main findings?

Response: The review, including almost 250,000 people, found that sugar-sweetened beverages are playing a big role in childhood and adult obesity. We were able to include 30 new studies from 2013-2015 in this review. These included studies were not sponsored by the industry. This compares with a previous review that included 32 studies across the period 1990-2012. The evidence base linking SSBs with obesity in children and adults has grown substantially in the past three years. Almost all (93 %) of the 30 studies in children and adults revealed a positive association between SSB consumption and overweight/obesity. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: A major culprit is not merely what people eat — it is the sugar they drink. A typical half litre soda contains 13 to 15 teaspoons of sugar and upwards of 240 calories. Based on the findings of this review, public health policies are urgently needed to encourage healthy alternatives such as water to reduce the consumption of the so-called “empty calories” that sugar-sweetened beverages contain, What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: This research adds to growing evidence of the detrimental health effects of frequent consumption of SSBs. Yet to date, actions to reduce consumption in many countries are limited or non-existent. Therefore, new and innovative strategies are needed to reduce SSB consumption. There is no doubt that the consumption and impact of SSBs can be reduced, but we need both the political will and the cooperation of the beverages industry to achieve it. The balance between the responsibility of individuals, health advocates, and governments and society must be clarified. It is important to mobilise multiple stakeholders and to develop operational synergies across different sectors. Professional networks and the food and beverages industry must be encouraged to promote healthy diets in accordance with international standards. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: This review was funded by the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO) Healthy Hydration Working Group through a new investigator grant. 


Luger M et al. Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Weight Gain in Children and Adults: A Systematic Review from 2013 to 2015 and a Comparison with Previous Studies, Obesity Facts (2017). Doi: 10.1159/000484566 is not a forum for the exchange of personal medical information, advice or the promotion of self-destructive behavior (e.g., eating disorders, suicide). While you may freely discuss your troubles, you should not look to the Website for information or advice on such topics. Instead, we recommend that you talk in person with a trusted medical professional.

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Last Updated on January 22, 2018 by Marie Benz MD FAAD