Health Buzz: Sugary Drinks Raise Heart Risks

Even one soda a day can hike your diabetes risk; does drinking water before meals help you lose weight?

By SHARE

Study: Sugary Drinks Increase Women's Heart Disease, Diabetes Risk

Drinking two or more sugar-sweetened beverages a day may boost women's risk for heart disease and diabetes, even if they're not gaining weight, a new study suggests. Researchers spent five years tracking 4,166 women ages 45 to 84. They found that women who downed at least two sugary drinks a day were nearly four times as likely as those who drank no more than one to have high levels of triglycerides, a fatty substance that in excess has been linked to heart disease, and abnormal levels of fasting glucose, a precursor to diabetes. Women who drank two or more sodas a day also had more belly fat, even if they didn't weigh more than the others. Excess belly fat increases the risk of high blood pressure and cholesterol, and can throw insulin production out of whack. Findings were presented Sunday at the American Heart Association's meeting in Orlando, Fla. "Our soda habit is something we have total control over," said Stacey Rosen, the associate chairman of cardiology at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., in an interview with HealthDay. "There are a lot of things that keep us healthy that are hard work and difficult, but cutting back on sweetened drinks isn't one of them. We are not talking about doing an hour of exercise or buying expensive organic foods."

  • To Cut Diabetes Heart Risks, Diet and Exercise May Beat Drugs
  • 7 Things to Know if You've Received a Diabetes Diagnosis
  • Even 1 Soda a Day Can Hike Your Diabetes Risk

    A soda a day? That's not so bad—a 150-calorie blip, burned off with a brisk half-hour walk. But it's not only your waistline that's at stake, U.S. News reported in 2010. A study published last year in the journal Diabetes Care found that people with a daily habit of just one or two sugar-sweetened beverages—anything from sodas and energy drinks to sweetened teas and vitamin water—were more than 25 percent likelier to develop type 2 diabetes than were similar individuals who had no more than one sugary drink per month. Since the overall rate of diabetes is roughly 1 in 10, an increase of 25 percent raises the risk to about 1 in 8. One-a-day guzzlers in the study also had a 20 percent higher rate of metabolic syndrome, a collection of indicators such as high triglyceride levels suggesting that diabetes is not far off.

    "Previous studies have shown that sugar-sweetened beverages are strongly associated with weight gain," said lead author Vasanti Malik, a research fellow in the Harvard School of Public Health Department of Nutrition, who says the decision to examine the relationship between sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of diabetes was "the logical next step."

    The researchers conducted a study of studies—a meta-analysis—to reach their conclusions. They identified eight studies with enough data to let them check for a link between sugary drinks and type 2 diabetes and three similar studies of metabolic syndrome. The largest diabetes study, which followed more than 91,000 American women ages 24 to 44 for eight years, made the strongest case for a relationship, and it wasn't just because higher consumption of sweetened drinks added excess calories that turned into pounds. While weight gain is a known diabetes risk factor, the diabetes-beverage link persisted even after adjusting for that. "Other factors independently put you at risk for developing diabetes," said Malik. [Read more: Even 1 Soda a Day Can Hike Your Diabetes Risk.]

    • Why Diabetes May Triple by 2050
    • To Cut Diabetes Heart Risks, Diet and Exercise May Beat Drugs
    • Does Drinking Water Before Meals Help You Lose Weight?

      Drinking two 8-ounce glasses of water before breakfast, lunch, and dinner may be just the backstop your willpower needs to help you shed pounds permanently, according to a study published in Obesity. Researchers instructed two groups of overweight or obese men and women to follow a low-calorie diet, asking one group to also drink two cups of water before meals. After 12 weeks, the water drinkers had lost an average of 15½ pounds, compared with 11 pounds for the control group, U.S. News reported in 2010. Those who continued the habit for a year lost an additional 1½ pounds on average. "I would never promote this as a get-slim-quick scheme," says senior study author Brenda Davy, an associate professor in the department of human nutrition, foods, and exercise at Virginia Tech University, who notes that the practice slows the emptying of the stomach. "This is simply an additional strategy that could help people manage their hunger." [Read more: Does Drinking Water Before Meals Help You Lose Weight?]