New Study Points to Dangers of Sugary Beverages

The results of a new study suggest that higher consumption of sugary beverages, including sugar-sweetened sodas, soft drinks, and fruit drinks as well as naturally sweet fruit juices, is associated with increased all-cause mortality among older American adults.

The REGARDS study, conducted by the University of Alabama Birmingham’s School of Public Health, examined the high incidence and increased risk of stroke in the South. The researchers collected detailed information during in-home visits, including participants’ blood pressure, waist circumference and cholesterol levels. The investigation involved follow-up interviews at six-month intervals thereafter. Participants included 13,440 black and white adults aged 45 and older, observed for a mean of 6 years. Incidental findings indicated a surprising discovery.

Among study participants, each additional 12-ounce serving of sugary beverages was associated with an 11% higher all-cause mortality risk. The American Heart Association’s statistics suggest that currently, an estimated one in six deaths in the United States is attributed to coronary heart disease, with men, people with low income, and non-Hispanic individuals at greatest risk. Various studies have found an association between high consumption of dietary sugars, particularly sugar-sweetened beverages, and coronary heart disease risk factors, including diabetes, obesity, and high cholesterol.

Sugar-sweetened beverages’ predominant ingredients are sugar and water. The sugars contained in all sugary beverages are primarily the monosaccharides glucose and fructose or the disaccharide sucrose, which is quickly broken down during digestion and metabolized into fructose and glucose. Researchers’ analysis estimated each participant’s daily consumption of each of the subject beverages and then estimated a total consumption of sugary beverages for each individual.

Nearly all of the study participants reported consuming some sugary beverages. About 80.9% or 10,873 individuals reported consuming sugar-sweetened beverages and 12,637 individuals (94%) reported consuming fruit juices. A total of 168 study participants died of coronary heart disease-related causes and 1,000 died from any cause during the follow-up period. Findings of the study suggest that higher consumption of sugary beverages among older adults is associated with increased all-cause mortality.

Consider drinking water to quench thirst and maintain health. Adult humans are 60% water and blood is 90% water. Water is essential to proper kidney function as well as other bodily functions. Additionally, good hydration can benefit the skin, reducing wrinkling and vulnerability to skin disorders. And choosing to drink water instead of soda or other sugary drinks can contribute to weight loss.

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