Beware Sugary Beverages

A review of recent epidemiological studies and meta-analyses of studies investigating the health effects of drinking sugar-sweetened sodas has shown that drinking just one or two servings a day substantially increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Frank Hu, MD, PhD, Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and colleagues found that people who drank one or two sugar-sweetened beverages a day had up to a 26% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a 35% greater risk of heart attack or fatal heart disease, and a 16% increased risk of stroke. The review also examined the role of fructose in the development of these conditions, exploring how fructose is metabolized in the body and its link to weight gain and the development of metabolic and cardiovascular conditions. “Part of the problem is how fructose behaves in the body,” said Hu. Glucose is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract into the bloodstream, where it is transported into cells to be used as fuel, while fructose is metabolized in the liver, where it can be converted to triglycerides, which are linked to fatty liver disease and insulin resistance. “Although reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages or added sugar alone is unlikely to solve the obesity epidemic entirely, limiting intake is one simple change that will have a measurable impact on weight control and prevention of cardio-metabolic diseases,” the researchers concluded. “Our findings underscore the urgent need for public health strategies that reduce the consumption of these drinks.”

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