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New Research Suggests Strong Link Between Sweetened Caloric Beverages and Metabolic Syndrome

Researchers From Across the Country Stress the Importance of Managing Calories Not Only from Food, But Also from Beverages

BOSTON, June 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, leading health and research experts are convening to review research findings that highlight the growing problem of increased consumption of sweetened caloric beverages and its link to negative health impacts. During the workshop "Calories from Beverages: An Underestimated Dietary Target for the Prevention/Management of Obesity/Type 2 Diabetes" held at the XV International Symposium on Atherosclerosis, experts will share new research updates and discuss the serious implications of this upward trend on public health.

Barry Popkin, PhD, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, will highlight the significant increase in the consumption of caloric sweeteners across the globe over the past 20 years, with the main source being sweetened caloric beverages, including: soft drinks, fruit drinks, energy drinks, vitamin and other functional beverage waters.(1) "We're facing a serious global public health threat that is caused in part by an upward trend in the consumption of sweetened caloric beverages combined with an accelerated shift toward inactivity, poor diet and obesity," said Dr. Popkin. "In order for Americans to better manage their health, they need to consider their daily intake of beverage calories." During this same time, research showed little change in water consumption and essentially no reduction in food intake to compensate for the additional beverage calories.(2)

"During 1999 and 2000, regular soft drinks represented a surprising 7% of calories in the U.S. diet. That number has since increased to an estimated 9% to 10%," said Frank B. Hu, MD, Harvard Medical School. "Putting our research together, we are able to understand the seriousness of this consumption trend," he added. Dr. Hu's research reveals a strong relationship between sweetened caloric beverage consumption and diabetes risk. George Bray, MD, of Pennington Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana will highlight the scientific link between soft drinks and obesity.

Research Highlights

  • Recent data from the Nurses' Health Study found that regular soft drink consumption was associated with an almost 49% increase in the risk of coronary heart disease in women, even after adjusting for body mass index (BMI) [Fung TT. Am J Clin Nutr 2009].
  • Data from the Framingham and Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) suggests a strong association between soft drink consumption and the prevalence of metabolic syndrome. For example, a recent study found that middle-aged adults who consumed at least one soft drink per day had a 44% higher adjusted risk of developing metabolic syndrome compared with those who consumed soft drinks infrequently [Dhingra R et al. Circulation 2007].
  • Eight-year data from the Nurses' Health Study II found an increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with a significant increased risk of diabetes, regardless of whether the data controlled for BMI [Schulze MB et al. JAMA 2004].

Ed Horton, MD, Harvard Medical School will introduce the workshop, which is hosted by the International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk (ICCR). Dr. Jean-Pierre Despres, Universite Laval, Quebec, Canada, Scientific Director of the ICCR, will summarize the discussion and its key conclusions.

"The way we eat and its relationship with chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease has received a lot of attention both from the scientific community and the lay press. However, from the emerging evidence on the issue, we also need to pay attention to our drinking habits," said Jean-Pierre Despres. "Educating people on the link between overconsumption of sugary beverages and the metabolic syndrome is an important step toward the prevention and management of chronic disease."

About the International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk

Based at Universite Laval in Quebec City, Canada, ICCR brings together a multidisciplinary group of world-renowned international scientists/clinicians. Its goal is to enhance awareness and knowledge of cardiometabolic risk factors in order to improve international patient management. Each year, the ICCR organizes an array of conferences and debates that serve to advance understanding in its fields of interest. The ICCR also works to provide physicians and patients with a variety of educational materials, many of which are available on the ICCR's website.

(1) Duffey & Popkin AJCN 2008.88(suppl): 1722S

(2) Duffey KJ & Popkin BM. Obesity 2007

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SOURCE International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk
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