It is likely no surprise to most health-minded individuals that consuming excess calories from sugary beverages and being overweight or obese are not mutually exclusive and independently lead to a significantly increased risk for metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Caloric intake from sweetened drinks provides no antioxidant support for the body and does not contribute to the daily nutrient requirements we all need to maintain optimal health. Amazingly, to date, there have been no conclusive studies to confirm the metabolic disarray caused by sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB’s).
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health have now published the result of a study in the New England Journal of Medicine that has determined that greater consumption of SSB’s is linked with a greater genetic susceptibility to high body mass index and increased risk of obesity. The study validates the existing view that environmental and genetic factors may act together to increase obesity risk.
The lead research author, Dr. Lu Qi commented “Our study for the first time provides reproducible evidence from three prospective cohorts to show genetic and dietary factors, sugar-sweetened beverages, may mutually influence their effects on body weight and obesity risk. The findings may motivate further research on interactions between genomic variation and environmental factors regarding human health.” The scientists note that over the past 30 years, calorie intake from SSB’s has increased dramatically around the world and many nutritionists believe play a significant role in the current obesity epidemic.
Sugar sweetened beverages shown to double obesity risk in genetically-susceptible people
To perform the study analysis, researchers reviewed data from three large cohort studies. All of the individuals reviewed completed food-frequency questionnaires detailing their food and drink consumption. Participants were refined to include 33,097 men and women of European ancestry for whom genome-type data was available. Participants were divided into four groups according to how many sugary drinks they consumed: fewer than one serving of SSB per month, between one and four servings per month, between two and six servings per week, and one or more servings per day.
The study found that the genetic effects on body weight and obesity risk among those who drank one or more SSB’s per day were about twice as large as those who consumed fewer than one serving per month. The researchers determined that frequent consumption of sugary drinks increases the risk of obesity in genetically susceptible individuals. The study authors conclude “SSBs are one of the driving forces behind the obesity epidemic… the implication of our study is that the genetic effects of obesity can be offset by healthier food and beverage choices.”
Consuming calories from nutritionally-depleted sugary drinks promotes chronic disease and leads to significant weight gain in the vast majority of genetically predisposed people. Choose non-caloric beverages including water, green and white teas and organic coffee to promote vibrant health and to aid weight management issues.
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