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1 Daily Soda May Boost Heart Disease

Researchers Point Finger at Diet, Regular Sodas; Industry Officials Disagree
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Soft Drinks Heart Disease

July 23, 2007 -- People who drank soda every day -- even diet soda -- in a recent study were more likely to develop risk factors for heart disease.

That is because a soda habit increases the risk of developing a condition called metabolic syndrome, according to the new research, and that in turn boosts the chance of getting both heart disease and diabetes.

"Even one soda per day increases your risk of developing metabolic syndrome by about 50%," says Ramachandran Vasan, MD, professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine and the senior author of the study, published in the July 31 issue of the American Heart Association's journal Circulation.

But other experts, including the American Heart Association, say heart disease has many risk factors and there's not enough evidence to directly blame sodas.

To be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, three of five criteria must be met: a large waistline, elevated blood pressure, elevated fasting blood sugar, elevated fasting triglycerides, or reduced HDL or "good" cholesterol.

"This study adds to the wealth of scientific evidence that sugar-sweetened beverages increase the risk of metabolic syndrome," says Vasan. Already, he says, the rise in sugary drink consumption has been linked to the epidemic of obesity and diabetes among children and teens and to the development of high blood pressure in adults.

Soda-Heart Disease Link Questioned

The food and beverage industry takes issue with the finding.

Roger Clemens, DrPH, a spokesperson for the Institute of Food Technologists, calls the study findings "oversimplified."

"There are many attributes associated with the development of metabolic syndrome," Clemens tells WebMD. "Some of which are part of lifestyle choices, such as eating too many calories." Diet soda is a more appropriate choice than regular soda, he says.

"It's way too soon to say stop drinking diet soda," says Clemens, a professor of molecular toxicology at the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy, Los Angeles, who is familiar with the new research. "Diet soda, in moderation, can be part of a healthy lifestyle."

Study Details

Vasan and his colleagues evaluated about 3,500 men and women participating in the Framingham Offspring Study. The offspring study began in 1971, following the original Framingham Heart Study launched in 1948. The offspring study included 5,124 people in all.

The questions about soda and other dietary habits were asked at three different exam periods, from 1987 to 1991, 1991 to 1995, and 1995 to 1998. The average age of those who answered questions about their soft drink intake and other health habits was 53 during the three exam periods, Vasan says.

At the first exam period, those who drank one or more soft drinks daily had a 48% increased prevalence of having metabolic syndrome compared with those who drank less than one a day, the researchers found.

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