New research claims that the daily consumption of artificially sweetened
beverages (ASBs) during pregnancy is associated with increased infant
body mass index (BMI). Meghan Azad, et al., “Association Between
Artificially Sweetened Beverage Consumption During Pregnancy and
Infant Body Mass Index,” JAMA Pediatrics, May 2016. Using food-frequency
questionnaire data from 3,033 mother-infant dyads enrolled in
the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) study,
researchers reportedly determined that, when compared to children
whose mothers did not consume ASBs during pregnancy, those born to
the 5.1 percent of mothers who imbibed ASBs daily were twice as likely to
be overweight at age 1.

“Infant birth weight was not affected, suggesting that maternal ASB
consumption influenced postnatal weight gain rather than fetal growth,”
explain the study authors. “These associations were independent of
material BMI, diabetes, total energy intake, diet quality, and other known
obesity risk factors. No comparable associations were identified for SSB
[sugar-sweetened beverage] consumption.”

Based on their analysis, the researchers hypothesize that prenatal
exposure to nonnutritive sweeteners (NNSs) is responsible for later
weight gain, as opposed to sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), caffeine or artificial colorings. The study notes that “the effects of ASB consumption
were only seen in male infants, consistent with findings by Collison et al
in which aspartame exposure commencing in utero was associated with
excess weight gain in male but not female mice.” As the authors conclude,
“Sex specificity has been reported for other obesogenic exposures in early
life, with males being disproportionately affected by maternal smoking,
antibiotic exposure, and formula feeding. This sexual dimorphism may
be related to sex differences in gut microbiota, which contribute to host
metabolism and weight gain. Our findings may support this intriguing
hypothesis because NNSs have been shown to modify gut microbiota,
although this has not yet been demonstrated for prenatal NNS exposure
in humans.”


Issue 604

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.