Women who drink two or more sugary beverages a day may be more likely to develop risk factors for heart disease – regardless of body weight, according to new research due to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions on Wednesday.
The researchers looked at soft drink consumption and cardiovascular disease risk factors among 4,166 ethnically diverse US adults aged 46-84 across five years. The participants did not have cardiovascular disease at the beginning of the study.
The research found that women consuming two or more sugary beverages a day were nearly four times as likely to develop high triglycerides, and they were also significantly more likely to have larger waist sizes – thought to be a risk factor for a number of diseases, including heart disease and type-2 diabetes.
Lead author of the study and assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City Dr. Christina Shay said: “Women who drank more than two sugar-sweetened drinks a day had increasing waist sizes, but weren’t necessarily gaining weight…
“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 the women didn’t gain weight.”
Women may be more susceptible than men, the researchers said, hypothesizing that the effect of sugar-sweetened beverages could be greater because women generally need fewer calories, so calories from soft drinks make up a larger proportion of total calories.
Associations - not cause and effect…
Shay said that further research is planned in order to work out why sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and risk factors for heart disease are linked.
Meanwhile, the American Beverage Association, which represents the interests of the beverage industry, said that it was not possible to draw conclusions about cause and effect from this research.
"This type of study cannot show that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages causes increased risk for cardiovascular disease,” it said. It simply looks at associations between the two, which could be the result of numerous other confounding factors.”
The American Beverage Association’s full response to the research is online here .