from Tufts University Health & Nutrition Update,   March, 2012   Study not yet published in peer-reviewed journal but was presented to American Heart Association

Over a period of about five years, women who drank two or more sugary drinks daily were likely to gain weight and increase waist size.  The risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke also rose in women who hadn’t gained weight or increased their waist sizes from the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Christina Shay, PhD, of the University of Oklahoma, and colleagues studied data on 4,166 adults, ages 45 to 84 who were participating in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.  All were initially free of cardiovascular disease.

Shay observed, “Most people assume that individuals who consume a lot of sugar-sweetened drinks have an increase in obesity, which in turn, increases their risk for heart disease and diabetes.  Although this does occur, this study showed that risk factors for heart disease and stroke developed even when we accounted for whether or not the women gained weight.”

The same connection wasn’t seen in men consuming sugary drinks.

“Women exhibit lower energy requirements overall and they may be at elevated risk for . . . cardiovascular risk factors when a greater proportion of calories is consumed in the form of sugary beverages,” Shay opined.

Alice H Lichtenstein, DSc, director of Tufts’s HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, says, “This study adds to the data we already have that people should displace sugar-sweetened beverages with non-caloric beverages, preferably water.  Although some people feel they can’t do it, they really should give it a try for a week.  I suspect after that time they will not want to go back to their original beverages and will feel good about making the change.”


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