Consumption of sugar-containing beverages (SCBs) in adults has been associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome. Although the effect of SCB on body weight in children is well established, little is known about the cardiometabolic effects in young children. We studied the associations of SCB intake at the age of 1 year with cardiometabolic health at age 6 years.
This study was performed among 2,045 Dutch children from a population based prospective birth cohort. SCB intake was assessed with a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire at the age of 13 months and sex-specific tertiles were created. Children visited the research center at the age of 6 years. We created a continuous cardiometabolic risk factor score including: body fat percentage, blood pressure, insulin, HDL-cholesterol and triglycerides. Age-and sex-specific standard deviation (SD) scores were created for all outcomes. Multivariable linear regression was performed with adjustment for socio-demographic and lifestyle variables of mother and child.
In the total population, we observed an association between higher SCB intake at 13 months of age and a higher cardiometabolic risk factor score at the age of 6 years (0.13SD (95 % CI 0.01; 0.25), highest vs. lowest tertile) After stratification by sex, we found that boys in the highest tertile of SCB intake had a higher cardiometabolic risk factor score (0.18 SD (95 % CI 0.01; 0.34)), as compared to boys in the lowest tertile of SCB intake. There was no significant association in girls. We did not find associations of SCB intake with the individual cardiometabolic risk factors in the total population, or in the stratified analyses.
Higher SCB intake at 1 year of age was associated with a higher cardiometabolic risk factor score at age 6 years in boys, but not in girls. Further research on sex-specific effects of SCBs is needed.