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Sucrose-sweetened beverages linked to obesity

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By Jimmy Downs

Sunday Oct 7, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) - Even sucrose-sweetened beverages are more likely than other calorie sources to increase risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, according to a trial in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Many consumers may have known that food and beverages with fructose which is found high in high fructose corn syrup, are blamed for the obesity epidemic in the U.S.  But the association between consumption of sucrose-sweetened beverages and risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease/events has been established for long, according to the authors of the study.

M. Maersk at Department of Endocrinology and Internal Medicine MEA, Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark and colleagues conducted the current 6-month trial to examine how sucrose-sweetened beverages affects fat storage in the liver, muscle and visceral fat depot. That is, they wanted to see if a trial can prove that sucrose consumption or drinking regular cola boosts risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.

In the trial, 47 overweight people were assigned to four test drinks in a dose of 1 liter per day for six months, sucrose-sweetened soft drink (regular cola), isocaloric semi skim milk, aspartame-sweetened diet cola, and water.

Those drinking the sucrose sweetened beverages gained more fat than those drinking any of other three beverages. Compared to the baseline measurements, drinking the regular cola (sucrose sweetened beverages) increased liver fat by 132 to 143%, skeletal muscle fat by 117 to 221%, visceral fat by 24 to 31 percent, blood triglycerides by 32% and total cholesterol by 11%.

However, there was no significant difference in total fat mass among all four groups while milk and diet cola reduced systolic blood pressure by 10 to 15%, compared to regular cola.  Diet cola was the same as water in terms of their effects on fat storage.

The researchers concluded "Daily intake of SSSDs (sucrose sweetened soft drinks) for 6 mo increases ectopic fat accumulation and lipids compared with milk, diet cola, and water. Thus, daily intake of SSSDs is likely to enhance the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases."

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