Sugary Drinks Increase Cardiovascular Risk

Tinker Ready

June 30, 2011

June 30, 2011 — A small study of men younger than 50 years found that even moderate consumption of soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) produces an increase in markers of cardiovascular risk.

After just 3 weeks of sugary drinks, healthy, normal weight (body mass index range, 19 - 25 kg/m ) men between the ages of 20 and 50 years saw harmful effects to low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles, fasting glucose, and C-reactive protein, according to the study published online June 15 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The researchers, led by Isabelle Aeberli, PhD, from the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Clinical Nutrition, University Hospital Zurich, and the Human Nutrition Laboratory, Institute of Food, Nutrition, and Health, ETH Zurich, Switzerland, launched the study because it is known that sugary drinks interfere with glucose and lipid metabolism in obese people. However, the effect of lower doses of SSBs in people of normal weight "is less clear."

One of the goals of the study was to measure the effect of sugar dosages similar to the amount found in commercially available sodas and sweetened drinks, "thereby allowing us to draw clinically relevant conclusions."

The prospective, randomized controlled trial looked at risk markers in 29 men who consumed drinks with varying amounts of fructose and glucose (which are derived from fruit) and sucrose (which makes up common table sugar). The researchers measured LDL, fasting glucose, and C-reactive protein at baseline and after 3 week-long interventions.

The study involved 6 interventions that ranged from drinks with 40 g of the sweeteners fructose or glucose to beverages with 80 g of fructose, glucose, or sucrose. One group was advised to consume low amounts of fructose.

At all of the levels, fasting glucose and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein increased significantly (by 4% - 9% and 60% - 109%, respectively; P < .05). LDL particle size was reduced in the higher-fructose group by .51 nm (95% confidence interval, −.19 to −.82 nm), and in the higher-sucrose group by .43 nm (95% confidence interval, −.12 to −.74; P < .05 for both). “Similarly, a more atherogenic LDL subclass distribution was seen when fructose-containing SSBs were consumed," the authors write.

The researchers concluded that even with lower doses (40 g sugar/day), which provided just 6.5% of daily energy in the form of SSBs, adverse effects could be observed with regard to LDL particle size and distribution, waist-to-hip ratio, fasting glucose, and inflammatory markers.

Although the study showed the short-term effect of SSB consumption, it was limited, in that 3 weeks "may not have been long enough to observe significant effects in parameters such as lipoprotein concentrations, insulin resistance, adipokines, body weight, and blood pressure."

The research will not solve the debate over the health effects of high-fructose corn syrup, which is used in everything from soft drinks to cereals in the United States. Despite the name, high-fructose corn syrup is chemically similar to other sweeteners: All contain glucose and fructose in roughly equal amounts.

Am J Clin Nutr. Published online June 15, 2011. Abstract


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.
Post as: