The regular intake of sugar-sweetened beverages such as sugary sports drinks, fruit juices, and sodas not only leads to weight gain but also increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, according to a new review.

Link Between Consumption Of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages And Health

"Some studies found that consuming as few as two servings of sugar-sweetened beverages a week was linked to [an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, diabetes and heart disease and stroke]," study author Faadiel Essop said. "Others found that drinking at least one sugar-sweetened beverage per day was associated with elevated blood pressure."

The researchers reviewed 36 studies conducted over the past 10 years, which analyzed the effect of sugary drinks on the metabolic health and heart. Though the studies had varied findings, most of them indicated that there was a link between sugary drinks and the development of metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a condition that takes place when a person has three or more of the following risk factors for heart diseases: elevated blood sugar, decreased levels of HDL, increased levels of triglycerides, abdominal obesity, and more than normal fasting blood sugar levels, which, however, is lower than diabetes.

Sweet beverages are also linked to high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, inflammation, and decreased insulin sensitivity. Essop has also suggested that people who consume sweetened beverages do not feel as satiated as those who eat solid foods even if the calorie consumption is the same. Consequently, the lack of satiety may lead to those people drinking or eating more.

Analysis Of People Who Consumed Sugary Drinks Frequently

Most of the studies were based on the observation of people who consumed more than five sugary drinks in a week. The researchers added that it is not clear how these sugary beverages increase the odds of metabolic syndrome, but it is certain that excess intake of sugary drinks is related to a higher waist circumference and weight gain.

However, American Diabetes Association mission and medical officer Dr. William Cefalu said that that the studies included in the review were observational studies and cannot prove a cause-and-effect link, though they prove a good base when researching medical problems.

Cefalu also mentioned that diabetic people, especially those treated with insulin and whose blood sugar is low should raise its level to avoid serious complications. Moreover, in such a case, a sugar-sweetened drink such as soda or juice can be quite helpful too. Apart from that, he said that water is the best form of hydration for all.

The study is published in the Journal of Endocrine Society.

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