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1 Sugary Drink a Day May Raise Heart Risk

Study: Men Who Drank 1 Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Daily Had 20% Higher Risk of Heart Disease Than Non-Drinkers
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Sugar-Sweetened Drinks and Heart Disease: Industry Weigh-in

Charles Baker, PhD, chief science officer at the Sugar Association, takes issue with the findings.

Among the flaws, he says, is that the fourth group included a wide range. The intakes in that group ranged from 4.5 drinks a week to 7.5 a day. The researchers figured the average to be at 6.5 a week or about one a day. (Half drank more, half less.)

Baker says it was this ''data manipulation" that allowed the researchers to find the 20% increased risk.

Singling out sugar is not the answer to fighting obesity and heart disease, he says. Instead, people should reduce calories and exercise more, he says.

In a statement, the American Beverage Association says, in part, that the men studied were nearly all white men of European descent. The findings, therefore, may not apply to the general population.

Other factors, such as stress, could have played a role, the statement says.

"The authors found an association between consuming sweetened beverages and [heart disease and stroke] risk, but this could have been the result of other lifestyle changes over the 22-year study period involving men 40 to 75 years of age," it adds. 

Sugar-Sweetened Drinks and Heart Disease: Diet Advice

Those who love such drinks don’t have to give them up entirely, Hu says. "One or two a week, I don't think that's going to be a major problem," he says.

"We should treat soda as some kind of treat, not a regular event," he tells WebMD.

The American Heart Association recommends drinking no more than 450 calories of sugary drinks a week. That's fewer than three 12-ounce sugared drinks.

On a given day, about one of two people in the U.S. drinks a sugary drink, the CDC reports. One in 20 drinks more than four 12-ounce sugared beverages per day, it finds.

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