The Health Risk of Consuming Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

The Health Risk of Consuming Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Posted By:
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When I inquire about dietary intake during a new patient history, I am always surprised to hear how many people drink sugar-sweetened beverages. Although consumption of these beverages has trended down in recent years, more than half of the US population continues to consume at least 1 sugar-sweetened beverage daily, according to the Nurses' Health Studies (NHS and NHSII). The greatest source of added sugar in the diet comes from carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks, fruit juices, and sports drinks. For reference, the average 12-ounce soda contains 140 to 150 calories and 35 to 37 grams of sugar. Now consider when these beverages are super-sized—the amount of sugar is staggering!

Research from the NHS, NHSII, and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) provides data linking consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages with long-term weight gain, as well as increased risk for type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and other cardiometabolic conditions. Scientists conducting NHSII found women who consumed at least 1 sugar-sweetened beverage daily had an 83% higher risk of diabetes when compared to those who infrequently consumed sugar-sweetened beverages; weight gain is suspected to be attributed to half of this increased risk. When the relationship between sugar-sweetened beverages and coronary heart disease was analyzed, NHS researchers found that women who consumed 2 or more sugar-sweetened beverages daily had a 35% increased risk of coronary heart disease vs infrequent consumers. Not surprising, right?

This evidence supports the need for educational messaging to patients when counseling for health promotion and disease prevention, as well as endorsing policies and marketing to limit sugar-sweetened beverages in schools and elsewhere. Reach for water, sparkling water, coffee, or tea instead!

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Filed under: Miscellaneous , Preventive Medicine

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