Infants who regularly eat cakes and sweets are more likely to be overweight or obese in the future compared to those who frequently consume milk and fruit, latest research has demonstrated.

A new study from the University of Groningen and University Medical Centre Groningen in the Netherlands has found that the source of sugar consumed by a child can impact their weight more than the amount.

During the investigation, the team of researchers examined data from GEKCO Drenthe – a continuous trial looking at children who were born in Drenthe between 2006 and 2007.

Nearly 900 children were involved in the study and their parents and carers were required to fill in surveys to outline the food intake of their kids when they were three years old.

According to the research findings, most of the children in the study consumed 112g of sugar every day.

More than 100 children were classed as overweight or obese by the age of 10 and 11, despite being a normal weight at the age of three.

The scientists have revealed that the children’s overall sugar intake at the age of three did not impact whether or not they would become overweight or obese.

Instead, they found that if the children had a higher intake of sugar from snacks like cakes or sweets, they were more at risk of being overweight or obese when they were older.

Meanwhile, those who got most of their sugar intake from fruit or unsweetened dairy products like milk were 67% less at risk of being overweight or obese at the age of 10 or 11.

Lead author Junyang Zou said: “The high consumption of sugary foods is considered a risk factor for childhood overweight and obesity, and so children are advised to consume less sugar-rich foods, such as confectionery, cakes and sugar-sweetened drinks, and eat more fruit and unsweetened dairy products, such as milk and yoghurt.

“But while fruit and unsweetened dairy products are considered healthy, they contain high amounts of intrinsic sugars – sugar that occurs naturally in the food, rather than being added.”

Junyang Zou continued: “We wanted to know if the source of sugar, added versus intrinsic, as well as the amount, affects the likelihood of developing overweight or obesity.

“While this has been studied before, the results are inconsistent and there is a lack of high quality research on the topic.

“Children should be encouraged to have fruit and milk instead of sweetened milk and yoghurt drinks, sweets, cakes and other foods rich in added sugar.”

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