A newly released study in The Journal of Nutrition confirmed a positive association between high intakes of sugar-sweetened beverages during adolescence and increased body fat mass at 20 years of age.

Adolescents have a higher consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages than other age groups, but little is known of the impact this may have on body composition in early adulthood. To address this knowledge gap, Amrei Bennett (University of Western Australia) and colleagues analyzed data from participants in the Raine Study. Food intake, including sugar-sweetened beverage consumption in servings per day, was estimated using food frequency questionnaires at 14, 17, and 20 years of age. Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry at 20 years of age measured whole body fat mass, lean mass, and bone mineral content. Four trajectory patterns of sugar-sweetened beverages consumption were identified: consistently low, increasing, decreasing, and consistently high. The consistently high group consumed > 1.3 servings (1 serving = 250 mL) per day of sugar-sweetened beverages over time, whereas the consistently low group consumed <0.5 servings of sugar-sweetened beverages per day over time.

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Among the 1137 study participants included in the final analysis, those with consistently high sugar-sweetened beverage intake had significantly higher total body fat mass at 20 years of age compared to those with consistently low consumption. No significant associations were observed between sugar-sweetened beverage intake trajectory classes and lean body mass or bone mineral content at 20 years of age. Few longitudinal studies have examined sugar-sweetened beverage consumption during adolescence and its associations with body composition and bone mass in early adulthood. The results show that consistently higher intakes of sugar-sweetened beverage during adolescence and early adulthood are associated with increased body fat mass but not associated with lean mass or bone mass in young adults. Reducing sugar-sweetened beverage intake in adolescence may help to prevent long-term consequences resulting from increased fat mass in young adulthood.


Amrei M Bennett, Kevin Murray, Gina L Ambrosini, Wendy H Oddy, John P Walsh, Kun Zhu, Prospective Associations of Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption During Adolescence with Body Composition and Bone Mass at Early Adulthood, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 152, Issue 2, February 2022, Pages 399–407, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxab389.

Images via canva.com.