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Metabolic Syndrome Health Center

1 Daily Soda May Boost Heart Disease

Researchers Point Finger at Diet, Regular Sodas; Industry Officials Disagree
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Study Details continued...

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.

As the study progressed, drinking one or more sodas a day was linked with a 44% higher risk of participants developing metabolic syndrome, Vasan's team found, compared with drinking less than a soda a day.

The researchers looked at soda consumption and the person's risk of developing each of the five criteria of metabolic syndrome. "Other than elevated blood pressure, the risk of developing the other four increased from about 20% to 30% with one soda a day," Vasan tells WebMD. They also found a trend toward an increased risk of developing high blood pressure with soda consumption, but it wasn't enough to be considered significant.

Explaining the Soda-Heart Disease Link

The link between soda consumption and heart disease risk factors "might be reflecting dietary behavior," Vasan says. "We know people who drink sodas have a greater intake of calories."

Soda drinkers, he says, are more likely to have a less healthy lifestyle pattern, such as eating fries, chips, and other high-fat foods. "They tend to smoke more and exercise less," he says.

Even after adjusting for intake of fat, fiber consumption, total calories, smoking, and physical activity, he says, there was still a link between soft drink intake and metabolic risk factors.

"We cannot rule out the possibility that consumption of soda is a marker of risk -- meaning it tracks with behavior that promotes the risk of metabolic syndrome -- rather than a true risk factor," Vasan says.

Other possible explanations: Drinking more sweet beverages could condition you to have a greater preference for eating more sweets, Vasan says, which could increase your weight and your waist size. Or if you drink a large soft drink with a meal, you may be hungrier and eat more at the next meal.

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