Baton Rouge, LA — Moderate candy consumption by children is not predictive of later weight gain or other cardiovascular risk factors (CVRF), the authors of a long-range study conclude.
This study comes after several recently published cross-sectional studies that have shown candy and chocolate consumption in children and adults is not associated with increased weight, BMI or waist circumference. Building on the existing evidence with a stronger study design, it provides a long-term analysis of the association between consumption of candy in childhood with health endpoints in adulthood.
The longitudinal Bogalusa Heart Study, published online in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, followed the dietary habits, including candy consumption, of 355 10-year-olds enrolled in three separate cross-sectional surveys between 1973 and 1984. Participants completed a 24-hour dietary recall survey and their weight and other CVRF were recorded at that time.
Follow-up data were recorded again in two separate studies conducted when the participants were young adults (mean age, 23 years) and as adults (mean age, 29 years). In the first follow-up, the subjects completed another 24-hour dietary recall survey; as in the baseline survey, candy intake was noted. The second study required participants to complete a food frequency questionnaire; in addition, their body mass index (BMI) and CVRF were measured.
At baseline, approximately 92 percent of the children reported eating candy. Seventy-seven percent were underweight or at normal weight, 14 percent were overweight and nine percent, obese. At follow-up, candy consumption had fallen to 67 percent, weight in 55 percent of the group was normal or less, and rates of overweight and obesity had doubled. No correlation between moderate candy consumption and BMI or cardiovascular risk factors was seen in adults.
“Consumption of nutrient-rich foods consistent with dietary recommendations is important, although modest amounts of candy can be added to the diet without potential adverse long-term consequences to weight or CVRF,” the authors write.
The research was performed at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, USDA/ARS Children’s Nutritional Research Center at Baylor University and the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.