Even if They Don’t Add Pounds, Sugary Drinks Up Heart, Diabetes Risks

Some women who drink two of more sugary beverages daily are lucky: their consumption of sweetened drinks doesn’t put on extra weight.

But their luck ends there. A recent study from the University of Oklahoma has found that even if consuming sweet beverages doesn’t add weight, it does increase a woman’s risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.

In fact, the study sees sweet-drink consumption as a significant contributing factor in the onset of metabolic syndrome, the cluster of conditions that often precede the onset of type 2 diabetes. 

Researchers at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City reviewed data on 4,000 adults, middle-aged and older, to look for differences between those who drank two or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day and those who drank one or less. (Sugar-sweetened beverages included sodas, flavored water, and even non-alcoholic beer.)

Among the data they examined were such markers as weight gain, cholesterol levels (“good” HDL versus “bad” LDL), waist size, triglyceride levels, blood sugar levels, and whether they eventually developed full-onset diabetes.

Study results showed that women who consumed more than two sugary beverages daily were nearly four times more likely to develop high triglyceride levels than women who drank one or less such beverages daily. They also had more instances of increased waist size.

Interestingly, a bigger waistline did not necessarily translate into increased weight. However, it did lead to an increase in abdominal (“belly”) fat, which can have a negative effect on insulin production, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure-three factors that are typical constituents of metabolic syndrome.

Researchers, led by Christina Shay, an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma Health Services Center, noted that the study results were only seen among women. Shay said it could be that because women generally need fewer calories than men, they are more susceptible to any effects that excess calories can bring on. 

In any case, Shay cautions that a lack of weight gain while drinking a lot of sugar-sweetened drinks can be deceiving. They can still quietly grow the risk of down-the-road diabetes and cardiovascular problems. 


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