Got Soda? Better Have Health Insurance, Too
Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages for just two weeks is enough to spike risk factors for cardiovascular disease, even among healthy young people not otherwise prone to heart disease. That’s the frightening conclusion reached by investigators at the University of California, Davis, recently, after they gave soda with varying amounts of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to male and female volunteers for just two weeks. Despite all the ink spilled exploring the potential dangers of drinking sugary soft drinks—and especially those sweetened with HFCS—investigators report theirs is the first study to document a direct, dose-dependent link between sugared beverage consumption and significant increases in risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. A “dose-dependent” relationship between the two means the more sugar subjects consumed, the higher risk factors rose, in a direct, predictable fashion.
Previous studies have examined epidemiological evidence to draw a link between sugar consumption and heart disease risk factors. Those sorts of studies provide clues about possible correlations between various factors, but do not prove causation directly. "These findings clearly indicate that humans are acutely sensitive to the harmful effects of excess dietary sugar over a broad range of consumption levels," said Kimber Stanhope, the study's lead author and a research scientist in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
Even among subjects who received the lowest “doses” of HFCS, there were significant increases in LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides—two blood lipids that are often monitored to evaluate relative heart disease risk. Levels of uric acid also increased. The risk factors rose more sharply among men than among women.
This should finally put any doubts to rest: Added sugars in the diet boost disease risk factors reliably and predictably. Even when those sugars are just 10% of the total daily calorie requirement, they are enough to wreck havoc with the body. As investigators noted: “…The risk of cardiovascular mortality is positively associated with consumption of increasing amounts of added sugars.”
Kimber Stanhope et al. A dose-response study of consuming high-fructose corn syrup–sweetened beverages on lipid/lipoprotein risk factors for cardiovascular disease in young adults. Am J Clin Nutr, April 2015 DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.114.100461