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Sugar-sweetened beverages

TOS research shows SSBs contribute to obesity epidemic

Organisation produces a position statement with several recommendations for improving health

The Obesity Society (TOS) has concluded that sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) contribute to the obesity epidemic in the US, particularly among children and the organisation has produced a position statement online with several recommendations for improving health, including that children minimise their consumption of SSBs.

"Following a thorough review and analysis of the existing research, TOS concludes that, by adding more non-nutritious calories to the American diet, SSBs have contributed to the U.S. obesity epidemic,” said TOS spokesperson Dr Diana Thomas, Professor at Montclair State University and Director of the Center for Quantitative Obesity Research. “Further, we recommend that to maintain and improve health children minimise drinking SSBs and adults reduce or avoid SSB consumption as part of an overall strategy to reduce calories."

According to the position statement, TOS defines SSBs as sodas, sports drinks and other types of beverages that are primarily made up of water and added sugar. Consumption of these drinks in the US remains high with Americans reporting that SSBs comprise 6-7% of overall calorie intake.

As a healthy alternative to SSBs, TOS reinforces the need for individuals to consume more water, a readily accessible, calorie-free source.

"Despite the challenges researchers have faced with isolating the impact of specific foods or beverages on body weight, the studies conducted on SSBs thus far have generated important and meaningful data leading to our conclusion," said Thomas. "The evidence shows that individuals with a higher BMI consume more SSBs than their leaner counterparts, and that decreasing SSB consumption may reduce overall calorie intake and help individuals with obesity or overweight reach healthy weight goals."

"Our efforts to help improve the food choices and environment for Americans certainly don't stop here," said Dr Steven R Smith, TOS President. "More research is needed to better understand the relationship between SSB reduction and weight loss in adults, as well as the relationship between all energy-dense foods and weight."

TOS recognises that weight gain is a problem for many individuals that rises beyond both calories consumed and any singular calorie source.

"We encourage policymakers, scientists, clinicians and the public to further explore the total caloric density of foods, including all foods high in added sugar, in an effort to provide more science-based nutritional insight and develop healthier food and beverage options to support America's health," continued Dr. Smith. "We look forward to serving as a continued resource for science-based information in this area."

The Obesity Society joins with the American Medical Association, American Association of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control, and Institute of Medicine in recommending that individuals decrease consumption of, or avoid, SSBs.

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