Dr. Philip James, chairman of the International Obesity Task Force, an independent worldwide scientific organization which was not connected with the study, said the evidence so far indicates that sugar is slightly less fattening than fat, but that sugar in drinks can be deceptive because the beverages are less filling than food.
He said one explanation might be that while people tend to eat less at a meal if they have overeaten at a previous sitting, evening out the calories, they don't tend to do that if the extra calories came from drinks. They tend to eat a normal-sized meal despite having loaded up on sugar from soft drinks.
Kids’ Soft Drink Consumption Doubles
In the last 10 years, soft drink consumption has almost doubled among children in the United States, Ludwig said, adding that the average American teenager consumes 15 to 20 extra teaspoons of sugar a day just from soda and other sugared drinks.
Half of all Americans and most adolescents consume soft drinks daily, and most of those are regular, not diet, the study said.
In a 1998 report on the issue, the U.S. health lobby group Center for Science in the Public Interest called soft drinks "liquid candy."
Childhood obesity has been linked to later development of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and arthritis.