‘The main concern is about childhood obesity, but our study suggests that age of first menstruation (menarche) occurred earlier, independently of body mass index, among girls with the highest consumption of drinks sweetened with added sugar.

‘These findings are important in the context of earlier puberty onset among girls, which has been observed in developed countries and for which the reason is largely unknown.’

A one year reduction in age at first period is estimated to raise breast cancer risk by five per cent.