Sug­ary drinks in preg­nancy leads to weight woes

The Hamilton Spectator - - HEALTH -

Ex­pect­ing? Bet­ter put down that Big Gulp.

A new study by Har­vard Univer­sity re­searchers has found that preg­nant women who forgo sugar-sweet­ened bev­er­ages — specif­i­cally soda and fruit drinks — may help their chil­dren avoid ex­cess weight and even obe­sity later in child­hood.

The re­search, pub­lished in the jour­nal Pe­di­atrics, is part of Pro­ject Viva, a mul­ti­part on­go­ing study to ex­am­ine nu­mer­ous fac­tors’ ef­fects on child devel­op­ment be­fore and af­ter birth. The pro­ject re­ceives fund­ing from the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health.

The study’s find­ings in­volved nearly 1,100 Mas­sachusetts mother-child pairs. Re­searchers looked at the women’s sug­ary and non-sug­ary bev­er­age in­take dur­ing the first and sec­ond trimesters of preg­nancy be­tween 1999 and 2002. The moth­ers filled out sev­eral ques­tion­naires, and the re­searchers con­ducted in-home vis­its, in­clud­ing one when the chil­dren were in mid­dle child­hood, with a me­dian age of nearly 8.

Among 8-year-old boys and girls of av­er­age height, their weights were about a half-pound more for each ad­di­tional serv­ing per day of sug­ary bev­er­ages their mother con­sumed in her sec­ond trimester.

For 8-year-olds who drank at least half a sug­ary drink a week and whose moth­ers con­sumed at least two sug­ary bev­er­ages a day dur­ing mid­preg­nancy, the chil­dren’s weights were about two pounds more. The re­sults were nearly the same among the chil­dren who drank less than that if their moth­ers drank the sug­ary bev­er­ages in preg­nancy.

The worst weight out­comes ap­peared to be linked to moth­ers who con­sumed soda, fol­lowed by sug­ary fruit drinks.

“We found that re­plac­ing sug­ary bev­er­ages with wa­ter, 100 per cent fruit juice, or milk had a greater ben­e­fi­cial ef­fect on child weight than did re­plac­ing the sug­ar­sweet­ened bev­er­ages with diet soda,” said Sh­eryl L. Ri­fas-Shi­man, a bio­statis­ti­cian with Har­vard Med­i­cal School and Har­vard Pil­grim Health Care In­sti­tute. Diet soda con­sump­tion was associated with slightly higher fat lev­els.

The study sug­gests that chil­dren’s weight gain may have a more de­vel­op­men­tal cause and that other char­ac­ter­is­tics of the drinks, in­clud­ing the sweet­en­ers used, may mat­ter more than high calo­ries alone.

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