(Natural News) Consuming artificially-sweetened beverages such as diet soda during pregnancy may raise the odds of subsequent obesity in children, a recent study in the International Journal of Epidemiology revealed. According to researchers at the National Institutes of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), pregnant women tend to increase fluid intake as a simultaneous response to the increased amniotic fluid volume. Many pregnant women opt for artificially-sweetened beverages in order to stave off extra calories from sugary sodas and juices. Previous studies have shown that drinking artificially-sweetened beverages were associated with weight gain.
In order to determine the effects of diet soda consumption in pregnancy on children’s weight, a team of researchers from the NICHD pooled data from Danish National Birth Cohort and examined more than 900 pregnant women with gestational diabetes. The women filled up a detailed questionnaire on their food intake during the 25th week of pregnancy. About nine percent of these women reported drinking at least one artificially-sweetened beverage each day. The study revealed that children born to these mothers had a 60 percent increased odds of having high birth weight compared with children born to women who did not drink such beverages. The research team also found that children born to mothers who consumed artificially-sweetened beverages were twice as likely to become overweight or obese at age seven than those whose mothers did not consume such drinks.
In addition, the research team found that daily consumption of artificially-sweetened beverages was no better than drinking sugary drinks each day. According to the experts, children born to mothers who drank both beverages were equally at risk of being overweight or obese at age seven. However, the study showed that mothers who replaced sweetened beverages with water slashed their children’s obesity risk by 17 percent. However, the experts cautioned that the findings warrant further research.
“Our findings suggest that artificially-sweetened beverages during pregnancy are not likely to be any better at reducing the risk for later childhood obesity than sugar-sweetened beverages. Not surprisingly, we also observed that children born to women who drank water instead of sweetened beverages were less likely to be obese by age seven,” said senior author Cuilin Zhang.
Another study implicates maternal soda intake to childhood obesity
Another study published in JAMA Pediatrics found a link between maternal soda intake and higher childhood obesity risk. As part of the study, researchers at the University of Manitoba in Canada pooled data from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development study with a cohort population of more than 3,000 mother-child pairs. Data from accomplished food frequency questionnaires revealed that 30 percent of mothers drank artificially-sweetened beverages during pregnancy, with five percent reporting to doing so on a daily basis.
The study revealed that these mothers had higher body mass index, did not breastfeed for as long and introduced their babies to solid foods earlier compared with the controls. The research team also found that babies born to these mothers had higher BMI, with the effects more pronounced in boys. However, the research firm did not find a causal relationship between soda intake in pregnancy and subsequent obesity risk in babies.
Childhood obesity epidemic in the U.S.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity remains a serious health burden across the U.S., affecting 12.7 million children and adolescents. The agency also noted that childhood obesity was more prevalent among Hispanic children at 21.9 percent, followed by non-Hispanic blacks at 19.5 percent. Non-Hispanic Asian youth had lower obesity prevalence at 8.6 percent.
The CDC also found that the prevalence of obesity was 8.9 percent among children two to five years old, 17.5 percent in children six to 11 years old and and 20.5 percent those 12 to 19 years old.