CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., Aug. 5 (UPI) -- U.S. children ages 4 and 5 who drink one or more sugar-sweetened beverages a day are more likely to be overweight or obese, researchers say.
Dr. Mark D. DeBoer and Dr. Rebecca J. Scharf of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, and Ryan T. Demmer of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York said at age 2, there was no link between sugary drinks -- such as soda, sports drinks or fruit drinks not 100 percent juice -- and obesity.
The study found children ages 4 and 5 who drank sugar-sweetened beverages were not only heavier they consumed less milk and were more likely to watch more than 2 hours of television daily.
"Pediatricians and parents should discourage sugar-sweetened beverages consumption to help avoid potential unhealthy weight gain in young children," the researchers wrote in the study.
"From a public health standpoint, strong consideration should be made toward policy changes leading to decreases in sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among children."
The findings were published online ahead of the September print edition of the journal Pediatrics.