A recent systematic review and meta-analysis conducted by researchers with the Harvard School of Public Health has allegedly concluded that sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption “promotes weight gain in children and adults.” Vasanti Malik, et al., “Sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain in children and adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, October 2013. Focused on prospective cohort studies and randomized controlled trials (RCTs), the meta-analysis noted that a one-serving per day increase in SSB consumption was associated with (i) “a 0.06-unit increase in BMI over a [one-year period] among children and adolescents,” and (ii) “an additional weight gain of 0.12 to .22 kg (≈0.25-0.50 lb) over [one year] among adults.”

“SSBs can lead to weight gain through their high added-sugar content, low satiety, and an incomplete compensatory reduction in energy intake at subsequent meals after intake of liquid calories,” conclude the study’s authors. “Our results also suggest the need for targeted strategies to reduce SSB consumption among high-risk populations, particularly children who are already overweight to prevent further weight gain, and highlight the importance of sustained strategies… Our findings have broad implications for developing public health strategies and policies targeting SSBs for weight control and obesity prevention.”