Background: High intake of sugar-containing beverages (SCBs) has been linked to increased risk of obesity. However, associations of SCB intake during pregnancy with child body composition have been unclear.
Objectives: We explored whether SCB intake during pregnancy was associated with children’s body mass index (BMI) and detailed measures of body composition. In addition, we examined different types of SCBs (i.e., fruit juice, soda, and concentrate).
Design: We included 3312 mother-child pairs of the Generation R Study, a prospective cohort from fetal life onward in the Netherlands. Energy-adjusted SCB intake was assessed in the first trimester with a food-frequency questionnaire. Anthropometric data of the children were collected repeatedly ≤6 y of age, and BMI was calculated. At 6 y of age, we further measured fat mass index (FMI) and fat-free mass index with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. All outcomes were sex- and age-standardized. Associations of SCB intake with children’s BMI trajectories and body composition were analyzed with multivariable linear mixed and regression models.
Results: Results from linear mixed models showed that, after adjustment for confounders including the SCB intake of the child itself, mothers’ total SCB intake was positively associated with children’s BMI ≤6 y of age [per serving per day: 0.04 SD score (SDS); 95% CI: 0.00, 0.07 SDS]. In addition, intakes of total SCBs and fruit juice, but not of soda or concentrate, were associated with a higher FMI [total SCBs: 0.05 SDS (95% CI: 0.01, 0.08 SDS); fruit juice: 0.04 SDS (95% CI: 0.01, 0.06 SDS)] of the 6-y-old children. These associations remained significant (P < 0.05) after additional adjustment for gestational weight gain, birth weight, and children’s insulin concentrations.
Conclusion: Our study suggests that maternal SCB intake during pregnancy is positively associated with children’s BMI during early childhood and particularly with higher fat mass.