Sugar sweetened beverages for teens in small doses not as adverse as previously thought.

HealthyBeverages_355pxA number of studies have recently been published which specify that sugar-sweetened beverages produce adverse health effects in teens. Sugar sweetened beverages are the largest source of added sugar in the diet according to the CDC and have bee blamed for adolescent obesity which has quadrupled over the past thirty years.

Now a new study has demonstrated that short term moderate consumption of high-fructose and high-glucose beverages has little impact on the metabolic health of weight-stable, physically active adolescents. The key difference minimizing any adverse impact appears to be the activity levels of adolescents. The study measured several aspects of metabolic health, including insulin sensitivity and cholesterol levels after research participants had consumed moderate amounts of high glucose and high fructose containing 50 grams of fructose and 15 grams of glucose.

“These beverages may not be as unhealthy for adolescents as previously thought, provided that kids stay active,” said Jill Kanaley, professor and associate chair in the MU Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. “That physical activity component is really critical in protecting against some of the negative effects of drinking large amounts of sugar-sweetened drinks demonstrated in previous studies.”

“Many parents of adolescents worry about their children’s consumption of sweetened beverages,” Kanaley said. “I certainly would recommend that they work to reduce their children’s intake of sugary drinks, but it also is important for kids to remain active, especially if they are drinking a lot of sugary beverages. In our study, the female adolescents averaged around 8,000 steps per day, and the males averaged about 10,000 steps per day. These children weren’t athletes, but they had active lifestyles.”


T. D. Heden, Y. Liu, Y.-M. Park, L. M. Nyhoff, N. C. Winn, J. A. Kanaley. Moderate amounts of fructose- or glucose-sweetened beverages do not differentially alter metabolic health in male and female adolescents. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2014; 100 (3): 796 DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.113.081232

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