The effects of sweetened beverage consumption on body mass index, waist circumference, and percent body fat in west Texas children



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The trend of obesity in the United States and throughout the world has increased among adults and children. Several studies have highlighted the increased prevalence of overweight and obesity among minorities, especially Hispanics. Contributors identified to this overall growth are genetic and socioeconomic factors, dietary habits, the decline in physical activity, and the increased portion sizes of society today. The excessive consumption of sugar sweetened beverages has been associated with higher calorie intakes, displacement of more nutrient-dense beverages, and increased dental caries among children. Sugar sweetened beverages are the biggest contributing source of added sugar; however at this time, there is no amount agreed upon that will significantly increase odds of being overweight.

This study is one of the first to use and compare body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), and percent body fat measurements among predominantly Hispanic young children. The sample group consisted of approximately 597 children in kindergarten to second grade (ages 4 four to nine years) from selected elementary schools in East Lubbock and El Paso. Approximately 315 completed self-reported surveys were returned by the parents of these children, with over 70% of eligible students participating in the study.

Statistical analyses were conducted using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) Statistics 17.0 (SPSS Inc, Chicago, IL). Only baseline values collected at the launch of the study were included in the statistical analyses. Means and standard deviations were calculated on all data. The children were divided into groups based on BMI percentile, grade level, and amount of consumption of sweetened beverages.Independent samples t-tests were performed to compare the amount of sweetened beverages consumed among BMI percentile groups. Pearson’s correlations were calculated between derived BMI, derived BMI percentile, weight, WC, percent body fat, and mean daily ounces of sweetened beverages. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to determine if group means for sweetened beverage consumption were significantly different when students were divided into quartile groups based on reported amount of sweetened beverage intake and grade level.

The results indicated that there was a statistically significant difference in the mean daily ounces of sweetened beverages consumed between children below the 85th BMI percentile and children at the 85th BMI percentile or higher (p < 0.05). Oneway ANOVA omnibus testing revealed there were significant differences in mean waist circumferences between the mean daily ounces of sweetened beverage quartiles (p < 0.05). This study also found that the children in this sample group consumed a large percentage of sweetened beverages in the form of fruit flavored drinks. In addition to these results, this study also provided additional insights into the relationship of sweetened beverage consumption and body composition. Valuable anthropometric information also was gathered about the sample group of young West Texas children.