When the heat is on, most of us tend to reach out for a sweet, fizzy drink to keep cool. The ongoing war against sugar suggests that soft drinks and energy drinks are a major contributor to childhood obesity epidemic. There are spoonfuls of processed sugar hiding in those chilled cans which health experts claim 'are nothing but empty calories'. Moreover, these drinks may also contain caffeine, artificial flavouring and preservatives which should be avoided wherever possible.
A new study, published online in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, adds to this growing concern. It indicates that a woman who drinks sugary drinks may transfer the risk of being obese to her newborn. Consumption of soft drinks by pregnant women lead to an increased risk of high body mass index (BMI) leading to being overweight in infants.
The findings show that daily consumption of artificially sweetened beverages, compared with no consumption of such beverages, was associated with an increase in infant BMI and a two-fold increased risk of an infant being overweight at age one. "The results provide the first human evidence that artificial sweetener consumption during pregnancy may increase the risk of early childhood overweight," said Meghan B Azad from the University of Manitoba in Canada.
To reach this conclusion, researchers analysed 3,033 mother-infant pairs to examine the association of consuming artificially sweetened beverages during pregnancy and its effect on infant BMI in the first year of life. A food questionnaire was used for dietary assessments during pregnancy and infant BMI was measured when they were one year old.
The results revealed that about 29.5 percent of mothers reported drinking artificially sweetened beverages during pregnancy, including 5.1 percent of women who reported drinking them daily.
The average age of the pregnant women was 32.4 years and 5.1 percent of the infants were overweight. "Given the current epidemic of childhood obesity and the widespread consumption of artificial sweeteners, further research is warranted to replicate our findings in other cohorts and longer-term outcomes," the authors stated.
Dr. Rupali Datta, Chief Nutritionist at SmartCooky agrees, 'During pregnancy, women need a good, healthy and nutritious diet. So consuming sugary drinks is not recommended since they contain empty calories which does not fulfill the nutrient value that a pregnant women needs.'
With inputs from IANS