When It Comes to Soft Drinks, Less Is More

We’ve all heard about Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to ban large drinks.  Well, he may have based that on a newly published clinical study by Barrio-Lopez et al. The study, published last month in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that the consumption of sugary drinks was correlated with metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, and waist circumference.

What is metabolic syndrome, you may ask? Metabolic syndrome is defined as “a combination of medical disorders that, when occurring together, increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes”.   So consider it a precursor to diabetes and heart disease. 

Exactly what does the research show?  The study tracked a) the consumption of sugary drinks, b) waist circumference, and c) medications for high blood pressure and triglycerides for more than 8,000 people over a 6-year period.  They found that increased consumption of sugary drinks was associated with a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, abdominal obesity and hypertriacylglycerolaemia (or elevated triglycerides).  In addition, people who increased their consumption of sugary drinks the most had a greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome than those who decreased their consumption. Lastly, participants with the highest increase in sugary drink consumption gained more weight (approximately 2.9 lb) than the people with the largest decrease in consumption during the 6-year study.   These results are corroborated by a study done in 2004, which concluded that “higher consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with a greater magnitude of weight gain and an increased risk for development of type 2 diabetes in women, possibly by providing excessive calories and large amounts of rapidly absorbable sugars”. 

What’s the take-home? There are negatives to consuming large amounts of sugar-containing carbonated sodas and fruit-flavored sugar-sweetened drinks.  So perhaps we should drink more seltzer…