New study: delayed introduction of sugar-sweetened beverages in the first two years of life is associated with better diet quality

Nov 10, 2021

Current recommendations encourage caregivers of young children to delay the introduction of sugar-sweetened beverages–beverages with added sugars such as soda, sweetened fruit drinks like lemonade, sweetened teas, and sports drinks–until after the child turns two-years old. A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior by University of California researchers further supports this. When researchers evaluated the diet of over 2200 young children across the nation enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children–also known as WIC–they found that those given SSBs during the first two years of life had lower diet quality at three years old. In contrast, the researchers found that delaying the introduction of 100% fruit juice during the first two years of life was not associated with lower diet quality. Study authors include Isabel Thompson, Patrick Bradshaw, and Mahasin Mujahid from UC Berkeley, Lorrene Ritchie from the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nutrition Policy Institute, and Lauren Au from UC Davis. Researchers used data from the WIC Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study-2, a federal study conducted with funding from the US Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service.

By Danielle L. Lee
Author - Director of Communications & Research Engagement
By Lorrene Ritchie
Editor - Director of the Nutrition Policy Institute and Cooperative Extension Nutrition Specialist