A new study in the journal Circulation, published by the American Heart Association, has linked the daily consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages to visceral fat which may in turn give rise to cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes among other associated health risks.
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A federally supported data from the Framingham Heart Study revealed that young and middle-aged adults face the risk of visceral fat and associated risks when they consume sugar-sweetened drinks on a daily basis.
Visceral fat is sometimes called “deep” fat; it is the fat that wraps around the liver, pancreas, intestines and other major internal organs. This fat influences the functions of hormones and considered to affect insulin resistance which ultimately increases the risks of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Funny enough, health experts analyzed the effects of sugar-sweetened beverage and diet soda drinks on health, but failed to observe this situation with diet soda which is always considered as having lower sugar and calories.
There is evidence linking sugar-sweetened beverages with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes,” said Caroline S. Fox, M.D., M.P.H, lead study author and a former investigator with the Framingham Heart Study of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. She now volunteers for the NIH.
Dr. Fox added that consumers will do better to adhere to current dietary guidelines and watch out for sugar-sweetened drinks; while policymakers would benefit from the knowledge that sugar-sweetened drinks may not be too good for people’s health.
About 1,003 participants were recruited for the study. They filled out forms which questioned their food intake and they also went for CT scans before and after the research to determine changes to their body fat.
They were grouped into four categories of non-drinkers, occasional drinkers who drank sweetened drinks once a month or week, frequent drinkers who drank sugar-sweetened drinks once a week or day, and those who drank every day.
The groups were followed for six years and the research team discovered that regardless of the age, gender, exercise level, BMI, and other factors, the visceral fat volume of the participants rose by –
• 658 centimeters cubed for non-drinkers;
• 649 centimeters cubed for occasional drinkers;
• 707 centimeters cubed for frequent drinkers; and
• 852 centimeters cubed for those who drank one beverage daily.
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Researchers do not know what triggers the exact biological mechanism responsible for this development, but they agreed that added sugar plays a role in insulin resistance, leading to hormonal imbalance that raises the risks of heart diseases and type 2 diabetes.