Study Finds Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Increase Women's Risk of Coronary Heart Disease
BOSTON (March 24, 2009) — Regular consumption of sugary beverages such as soda put women at a higher risk for coronary heart disease. This data is part of a new study led by Simmons College Nutrition Professor Teresa Fung.
Published in the April edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study found a significant positive association between sugar-sweetened beverage intake and risk of coronary heart disease. Women who consumed two or more servings of these beverages each day had a 35% higher risk of heart disease compared to those who consumed less than two servings per month.
The study authors controlled for factors such as smoking, lower levels of physical activity, higher body mass index numbers, consumption of more energy, saturated and trans fats, and consumption of less alcohol, fruit, and vegetables, and found that women who had these behaviors also were more likely to consume sugar-sweetened beverages.
"We all know that drinking lots of sugary beverages is unhealthy," said Fung. "This study looked specifically at how regular consumption of sugary beverages can lead to an increased risk of heart disease."
The study defined sugar-sweetened beverages as carbonated and non-carbonated beverages that contain sugar-based caloric sweeteners and are flavored with fruit juice or natural and artificial flavors. It also included caffeinated and non-caffeinated colas, including low-calorie sweet beverages such as diet sodas.
Previous studies have found that consumption of these beverages has more than doubled in the last 30 years from about 3.9% of energy intake in the late 1970s, compared to 9.2% current energy intake today.
The study used data from the Nurses' Health Study, a National Institutes of Health-funded project that began in 1976 to examine factors that influence women's health. The surveyed cohort included approximately 88,000 women ages 34-59 whose diet patterns were studied from 1980 on.
In addition to Fung, other study authors included Vasanti Malik, Harvard School of Public Health; Kathryn M. Rexrode, Harvard Medical School; JoAnn E. Manson, Harvard Medical School; Walter C. Willett, Harvard School of Public Health; and Frank B. Hu, Harvard School of Public Health.
Simmons College is a nationally recognized private university located in the heart of Boston. It offers an undergraduate education for women, and renowned coeducational graduate programs in health sciences, education, liberal arts, social work, library and information science, and communications management, as well as the nation's first MBA program designed specifically for women.
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