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Issue Date: Vol. 54, No. 2, February 2014, Posted On: 2/4/2014

Sugar Linked To Cardiovascular Disease, Soda Singled Out As Contributor

Emily Jed
TAGS: sugary soda, heart disease, CDC soda study, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, added sugar in foods and beverages, Quanhe Yang, Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, sugar-sweetened beverages and heart disease, Quanhe Yang

Drinking just one can of sugary soda a day can increase a person's risk of dying from heart disease, a new study suggests. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found an association between consuming "too much" added sugar in foods and beverages to be an independent risk factor for dying of cardiovascular disease. The study was published in the Feb. 3 Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine.

Participants in the study who consumed approximately 17% to 21% of their calories from added sugar had a 38% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, compared with those who consumed approximately 8% of calories from added sugar, the study's authors concluded. And the risk was more than double for those who consumed 21% or more of calories from added sugar.

For sugar-sweetened beverages specifically, the researchers found that seven 12-fl.oz. servings a week increased a person's risk for cardiovascular disease by more than a third.

The researchers did not limit their focus to sugar-sweetened beverages. They also found a link between a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and a diet with too much added sugar in processed and prepared foods.

"Most Americans are consuming too much sugar," said Quanhe Yang, a senior scientist in the CDC's division for heart disease and stroke prevention, and lead author of the study. "If you can limit your consumption of added sugar, it'll help you to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease."

In a statement, the American Beverage Association pointed out that adult consumption of added sugars has actually declined, as reported by the CDC.

"A significant part of that reduction is from decreased added sugars from beverages due, in part, to our member companies' ongoing innovation in providing more low- and no-calorie options," ABA said. "Furthermore, this is an observational study which cannot -- and does not -- show that cardiovascular disease is caused by drinking sugar-sweetened beverages."

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