Ditching carbonated drinks could help to prevent childhood obesity, scientists said on Friday.

Obesity is a growing problem in children. Researchers at the Bournemouth Diabetes and Endocrine Centre in southern England found that just cutting down on carbonated drinks limited their obesity rates.

“The message was ‘Ditch the fizz’,” Dr David Kerr, the head of the research team, said in an interview.

Rather than targeting multiple areas such as food, drink and exercise to prevent childhood obesity, Kerr and his team decided to focus on just one — carbonated drinks.

Fizzy drinks contain large amounts of sugar that are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. If the child doesn’t use it up it gets stored as fat.

“We thought if we could persuade children to reduce their consumption of fizzy drinks it would go some way to prevent them becoming overweight or obese,” Kerr explained.

It did.

In a study of 650 schoolchildren, aged 7-11, Kerr and his team said half of the youngsters cut their consumption of fizzy drinks by half a glass a day, about 250 ml (9 ounces).

The other half, or control group, drank about 0.2 glasses more a day in addition to their average of about two glasses every three days.

By the end of the school year the percentage of overweight and obese children in the control group rose by 7.6 percent but fell 0.2 percent in the children who cut fizzy drinks.

More here.