Soft drinks sweetened with sugar have been ruled out as a cause for obesity, according to a UK study.

Researchers from Cambridge said yesterday (5 December) that they used a method called dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) to examine the relationship between a high intake of sweetened soft drinks and body fat, using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.

Results showed no significant association between body fat and sweetened drinks consumption, with sweetened soft drinks representing 15% of beverage consumption by volume, and accounting for only 3% of total daily energy intake on average.

The sample of children included 521 five-year-olds and 682 seven-year-olds who had supplied a three-day diet diary, the study revealed.

Children with a high intake of low calorie and sugar-free drinks tended to be fatter than children with a low intake of these beverages, added researchers. However, claiming that this was "likely to be due to parents of overweight children offering low sugar drinks in the belief that this will promote weight control".