Study: Drinking sugary beverages in pregnancy affects child’s body fat later
MelissaJenco, News Content Editor
Children’s body fat increased the more their mothers drank sugary beverages during
the second trimester of pregnancy, according to a new study.
Researchers say the findings highlight the need for early action to fight obesity.
“Prevention strategies at the earliest stages of human development, including before
birth, hold promise for prevention of obesity and non-communicable diseases across
the life course,” authors wrote in the study “Beverage Intake During Pregnancy and
Childhood Adiposity” (Gillman MW, et al. Pediatrics. July 10, 2017, https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2017-0031).
The team studied 1,078 mother-child pairs through a series of questionnaires and in-person
visits that started during pregnancy and continued as the child grew older. They asked
about consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, defined as fruit drinks and regular
soda, and tracked children’s body mass index (BMI), fat mass index, skinfold thickness
and central adiposity.
Mean sugar-sweetened beverage consumption was about 0.6 servings per day during the
second trimester of pregnancy, according to the study. Researchers found that each
daily serving during that time was associated with an additional 0.15 kg/m2 of fat mass for children when they reached school age. Higher consumption by the
mother also was linked with higher BMI z-scores and waist circumference for their
There was no difference in the findings based on the child’s sex or race or the mother’s
weight. Researchers also determined the mother’s beverage intake played a greater
role than the child’s.
The findings “lend credence to the hypothesis that the observed effects are due to
prenatal programming of susceptibility to obesity,” authors wrote.
They ruled out variables like maternal intake of fried food, breastfeeding duration
and physical activity as having an impact on the associations. In addition, there
were no significant links between children’s BMI z-scores and their mother’s consumption
of water, diet soda or 100% fruit juice during pregnancy.
“These findings suggest that efforts to limit sugar-sweetened beverage consumption
once women become pregnant could help stem the tide of childhood obesity,” the study