Christina Shay, PhD of the University of Oklahoma, and her team of researchers studied the data on 4,166 adults, ages 45 to 84, who were initially free of cardiovascular disease.
Over a period of five years, women who drank two or more sugary drinks daily were more likely to increase waist size and gain weight. They were also more likely to develop high triglyceride levels and impaired fasting glucose than women who consumed less than one sugary drink per day.
Unhealthy changes in heart-disease risk factors were observed, regardless of changes in weight. Not all women whose waist size increased were gaining weight.
Shay said, “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. While 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 results weren’t seen in men drinking sweetened beverages. “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 sugar-sweetened beverages,” Shay explained.
Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, reports, “This study adds to the data we already have that people should displace sugar-sweetened beverages with non-caloric beverages, preferably water.”
Sources: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, July 8, 2013 Study presented at meeting of the American Heart Association