Obesity and Sugar-sweetened Beverages in African-American Preschool Children: A Longitudinal Study

A representative sample of 365 low-income African-American preschool children aged 3-5 years was studied to determine the association between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption (soda, fruit drinks, and both combined) and overweight and obesity. Children were examined at a dental clinic in 2002-2003 and again after 2 years. Dietary information was collected using the Block Kids Food Frequency Questionnaire. A BMI score was computed from recorded height and weight. Overweight and obesity were defined by national reference age-sex specific BMI: those with an age-sex specific BMI >= 85th, but = 95th age-sex specific percentile as obese. The prevalence of overweight was 12.9% in baseline, and increased to 18.7% after 2 years. The prevalence of obesity increased from 10.3 to 20.4% during the same period. Baseline intake of soda and all sugar-sweetened beverages were positively associated with baseline BMI z-scores. After adjusting for covariates, additional intake of fruit drinks and all sugar-sweetened beverages at baseline showed significantly higher odds of incidence of overweight over 2 years. Among a longitudinal cohort of African-American preschool children, high consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was significantly associated with an increased risk for obesity.