Drinking fruit juice as a child ‘can make huge different to health as an adult’, study finds

By Staff 5 Min Read

A new study has found that children who drink fizzy drinks such as cola before the age of two are more likely to gain weight in their 20s but those who drink fruit juice tend to have healthier diets

Drinking fruit juice as a child can stop obesity later in life, new research suggests.

A new study has discovered that having fizzy drinks such as cola before the age of two can cause weight gain in your twenties, while kids who drink fruit juice tend to have healthier diets in the future. The Swansea University research followed 14,000 British children from birth to adulthood and is believed to be the longest of its kind ever reported.

The results, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that children who drank fizzy drinks or sugar-sweetened fruit cordials before the age of two gained more weight when they were 24 years old. At three years old, toddlers who drank cola were seen to consume more calories, fat, protein and sugar but less fibre while those given pure apple juice consumed less fat and sugar but higher amounts of fibre.

A link was also found between childhood drinks and different food choices, with kids who had pure apple juice eating more fish, fruit, green vegetables and salad – compared with cola kids who ate more burgers, sausages, pizza, French fries, meat, chocolate and sweets.

Lead researcher Professor David Benton said: “The early diet establishes a food pattern that influences, throughout life, whether weight increases. The important challenge is to ensure that a child develops a good dietary habit: one that offers less fat and sugar, although pure fruit juice, one of your five a day, adds vitamin C, potassium, folate, and plant polyphenols.”

Additionally, the team discovered a link between sugar-sweetened drinks and social deprivation, with children from richer backgrounds more likely to have access to pure fruit juice. The researchers hope that their findings will encourage parents to pay more attention to their children’s diet in the first years of life.

Dr Hayley Young added: “Obesity is a serious health concern, one that increases the risk of many other conditions. Our study shows that the dietary causes of adult obesity begin in early childhood and that if we are to control it, more attention needs to be given to our diet in the first years of life.”

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