Beverage Choice Impact on Adolescent Girls

Research Shows Beverage Choice Significantly Impacts Weight and Nutrient Intakes of Adolescent Girls

Young girls tripled their intake of sugary sodas as they entered adolescence, making sodas the number one beverage consumed by older girls - a trend that is being blamed for an increase in weight (BMI) and a severe shortage of calcium, according to a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics. While milk consumption declined 25 percent during the same time period, drinking milk was linked to a lower BMI and a higher intake of calcium.

Researchers studied the beverage choices of more than 2,000 adolescent girls who participated in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study. The 10-year study collected food diaries for girls beginning at ages 9 or 10 years until age 19 years.

Of all beverages, increasing soda consumption predicted the greatest increase of BMI and the lowest increase in calcium intake. The researchers suggest that decreased calcium intake may contribute to the risk of obesity through the effects of calcium on fat absorption or the regulation of fat metabolism.

They conclude that "public health efforts are needed to help adolescents gain access to and choose healthful beverages and decrease intake of beverages of minimal nutritional value."

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. William H. Dietz, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adds that this research is cause for action. He suggests that "reduced consumption of high-calorie, nutrient-poor beverages may help reduce or prevent childhood obesity." He also states that "because milk provides an important source of calcium in the diets of children and adolescents, the decline in girls' milk consumption at a time when bone mineral deposition may predispose to eventual osteoporosis is a major concern."

Striegel RH, Thompson D, Affenito SG, Franko DL, Obarzanek E, Barton BA, Schreiber GB, Daniels SR, Schmidt M, Crawford PB. Correlates of beverage intake in adolescent girls: the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study. Journal of Pediatrics. 2006; 148: 183-7.

Dietz WH. Sugar-sweetened beverages, milk intake, and obesity in children and adolescents. Journal of Pediatrics. 2006; 148: 152-4.