Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Disease Health Center

Font Size

Sugary Drinks Linked to Heart Risks in Women

2 or More Sugary Drinks a Day Associated With Belly Fat, Heart Disease
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Nov. 14, 2011 (Orlando, Fla.) -- Once again, sugar-sweetened beverages are on the firing line. New research shows that two or more sugary drinks a day may increase a woman's waistline and risk of heart disease -- even if she doesn't gain weight.

In a study of more than 4,000 people aged 45 to 84, women who drank at least two sugar-sweetened beverages a day were nearly four times as likely to develop higher than normal levels of blood fats called triglycerides in their blood, compared with women who drank less than one a day.

They were also more likely to pack on belly fat. Belly fat has been linked to a number a health risks, including heart disease and diabetes.

And they were four times more likely to have abnormal blood glucose levels, indicating prediabetes.

The risks were higher even in women of normal weight and women who didn’t gain weight.

Many people assume that drinking a lot of sugary beverages leads to obesity, and that drives up heart risks, says Christina Shay, PhD, an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City.

Although that may occur, weight gain doesn't explain the increased risk of heart disease associated with sugary beverages in this study, she tells WebMD.

Shay presented the findings here at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Scientific Sessions 2011.

Study Doesn't Show Cause and Effect

One in two Americans drinks at least one sugary drink a day, according to the CDC. And one in 20 Americans drinks four or more a day.

In contrast, the AHA recommends that adults and children drink fewer than 450 calories or 36 ounces of sugary drinks per week to prevent heart disease.

"There's a lot of concern," says AHA spokeswoman Alice Lichtenstein, DSc, a nutritionist at Tufts University in Boston.

Although this study does show a link between these heart risk factors and sugary drinks, it’s important to note that the study doesn’t prove that sugar-sweetened beverages cause heart disease.

The American Beverage Association (ABA), which represents the soft drink industry, agrees. In response to the findings, it issued a statement saying, "This type of study cannot show that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages causes increased risk for cardiovascular disease. It simply looks at associations between the two, which could be the result of numerous other ... factors."

Today on WebMD

x-ray of human heart
A visual guide.
atrial fibrillation
Symptoms and causes.
heart rate graph
10 things to never do.
heart rate
Get the facts.
empty football helmet
red wine
eating blueberries
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Inside A Heart Attack
Omega 3 Sources
Salt Shockers
lowering blood pressure