Diabetes, stroke risk increased by sugary drinks: study

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Sep 30, 2015 06:33 AM EDT

Downing 1 to 2 cans or bottles of sugary drinks with high-fructose content such as soda, fruit drinks, energy drinks and more may increase risk for stroke and diabetes, and may lead to weight gain, a new study revealed.

A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology focuses on how fructose in high-fructose corn syrup affects the body. The researchers from Harvard Public Health found that one to two cans or bottles of sugary drinks can lead to increased risk of diabetes, stroke and contribute to obesity.

In the published study, lead researcher Dr. Frank Hu emphasized that their findings "underscore the urgent need for public health strategies that reduce the consumption" of high-fructose sugary drinks. Hu added that we get our fructose from sugary beverages that contain sucrose, high fructose corn syrup and fructose-containing sugars.

For the study, Hu and colleagues analyzed the data from recent studies. It was revealed that drinking one or two servings of sugary beverages a day can lead to a 26-percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, 35-percent chance of increased risk of heart attack or fatal heart disease and 16-percent increased risk of developing stroke.

Hu also explained that the metabolization of fructose in the body can also lead to weight gain and the development of the said conditions. The report by Medical Daily explains that when there is excessive sugar, the liver cannot metabolize it so it is then converted into fat which can be sent to the bloodstream that can contribute to heart disease.

According to Medical News Today, high-fructose corn syrup is used as a cheaper sweetener to sucrose in the US. While drinking sugary beverages have decreased over the years, it is considered to be the major source of sugar in the diets of most Americans. Almost 25 percent of Americans take 200 calories a day from drinking soda while 5 percent of the population drink pop that amounts to more than 500 calories or four cans.

"This is particularly concerning as the research shows that consuming one or more sugar-sweetened beverages a day has been linked to greater weight gain and obesity in numerous published studies," Hu explained, as stated in the research. "Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages can lead to weight gain because the liquid calories are not filling, and so people don't reduce their food intake at subsequent meals."

However, changing the nutritional label on the products can contribute to awareness of how sugar can wreak havoc the body.

"Although reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages or added sugar alone is unlikely to solve the obesity epidemic entirely," Hu explained. "Limiting intake is one simple change that will have a measurable impact on weight control and prevention of cardio-metabolic diseases."

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