Soda not main culprit of childhood obesity: study

As New Yorkers continue to debate a controversial proposal to ban supersized sodas, a new study out of Canada says the link between the consumption of sweetened beverages and childhood obesity is weak at best.

It's the latest study to weigh in on the controversy which has divided the city, with supporters lauding Mayor Michael Bloomberg's initiative to combat rising obesity and others calling the strategy shortsighted.

The Canadian study, to be published in the October issue of Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, determined that more than the consumption of sugary drinks, the main predictors of childhood obesity among Canadian children were household income, ethnicity and household food security.

But it also found that the intake of sweetened beverages and the risk of obesity indeed played a factor in boys aged 6 to 11.

For their study, researchers examined the relationship between the intake of sweetened beverages like fruit punch and lemonade and data from a cross-sectional Canadian Community Health Survey of children and teens aged 2 to 18 years.

Last week, US researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham spoke out publicly against the ban, calling the proposal shortsighted, as their work also found no significant overall effect on weight reduction.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meanwhile, the average restaurant and fast food meal in the US is now four times larger than in the 1950s, with soda the most startling: what used to be a modest 7 ounces 60 years ago is now six times bigger, averaging 42 ounces.

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