BOSTON (AP) - New research powerfully strengthens the case that soda and other sugary drinks are culprits in the obesity epidemic.

Scientists say that a decades-long study involving more than 33,000 Americans gives the first clear proof that drinking sugary beverages interacts with genes that affect weight. This means that sugary drinks are especially harmful to people with genes that predispose them to weight gain.

Two other experiments find that replacing sugary drinks with sugar-free ones leads to less weight gain in children and teens.

Soda lovers do get some good news: Sugar-free drinks did not raise the risk of obesity in these studies.

The studies were presented Friday at an obesity conference in Texas and were published online by the New England Journal of Medicine.

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