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Sugar-sweetened beverages and body weight

Ebbeling, Cara B.

Current Opinion in Lipidology:
doi: 10.1097/MOL.0000000000000035
NUTRITION AND METABOLISM: Edited by Frank M. Sacks and Lawrence J. Appel

Purpose of review: Given the high prevalence of obesity in the USA, much recent attention has focused on dietary strategies for weight control. Several medical and scientific societies currently recommend reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). However, the evidence base for a public health recommendation has been a topic of debate. The purpose of this review is not to underscore the debate but rather to consider how recently published data pertaining to SSBs contribute to the evidence base for preventing and treating obesity, with application to caring for patients.

Recent findings: Consumption of SSBs remains prevalent in the USA. Emerging data from epidemiological studies and clinical trials indicate that consumption contributes to positive energy balance and reducing consumption has beneficial effects on body weight. Some individuals may be more susceptible to the adverse effects of consuming SSBs owing to their ethnicity or genetic predisposition. Plausible physiological mechanisms link consumption of SSBs with weight control.

Summary: Available data provide an evidence base for counselling patients to reduce consumption of SSBs. Nevertheless, additional research is needed to strengthen the evidence base, particularly studies aimed at understanding susceptibility to the adverse effects of consuming SSBs on body weight and mechanisms for these effects.

Author Information

New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Correspondence to Cara B. Ebbeling, PhD, New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center, Boston Children's Hospital, 300 Longwood Avenue (AU307), Boston, MA 02115, USA. Tel: +1 617 919 3457; fax: +1 617 730 0183; e-mail:

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins