A 12-ounce can of sugar-sweetened soda has 130 calories of sugar, or eight teaspoonfuls, the team noted. American adults average 28 ounces a day of sugar-sweetened beverages, Chen said, with younger people drinking a lot more soda than older folks.
The 810 study participants, whose average age was 50, drank 10.5 ounces a day of sugar-sweetened beverages -- just under one serving -- on average when the study began.
Their average blood pressure was above the desired 120/80 reading. Some had pre-hypertension readings of between 120/80 and 139/89, and others had obvious hypertension -- readings of 140/90 and above, which is of medical concern.
At the end of the study, their daily soft drink consumption fell by an average of about half a serving, and their blood pressure had benefited.
Even when weight loss was factored in, the impact of reduced sugar consumption on blood pressure improvement remained significant.
"They controlled for all kinds of variables and still found an association," Johnson said.
Sugar-sweetened soft drinks are becoming a matter of political controversy, with Washington, D.C., and other cities proposing to tax sugary sodas. The American Heart Association has so far taken no stand on that issue.
"I am generally supportive of the concept," Johnson said. "When you look at the cost of obesity to the health care system, with sugar-sweetened beverages implicated as playing an important role in that epidemic, it could make sense. The revenue could be used to reduce health care costs. Also, if the tax is high enough, it could have the same effect on reducing consumption as tobacco taxes."
Recommendations on added dietary sugar are offered by the Amer
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