Two new randomised trials of sugar sweetened drinks in children and adolescents add to the increasing body of evidence that sugary drinks result in excess weight gain in children and adolescents. The studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine involved Dutch schoolchildren aged 5-12 years and in a second study obese US adolescents with a average age of 15 years. The Dutch schoolchildren were given one can a day of a sugary drink or a no calorie drink in a double blind trial. BMI increased significantly more in children given the sugary drink over an 18 month study period. In the US study the intervention group received no calorie drinks for a year, while controls were given supermarket vouchers. Body mass index increased more slowly in the intervention group, but only for the year of the intervention with no significant difference at two year follow-up. A editorial in the same issue urges policy makers to take notice (doi:10.1056/NEJMe1209884) and argues that government action to reduce consumption is now justified.
A related feature in the BMJ by Michael Grynbaum of the New York Times examines whether the initiative by the Mayor of New York, Michael R Bloomberg, to ban the sale of supersized sweet drinks in New York’s restaurants, movie theaters, street carts, and sports stadiums will lead to a reduction in obesity. The debate is clearly heating up and expect to hear more about this over the coming months. In the meantime all eyes are on New York to gauge the public reaction to this major public health intervention. (BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e6768)