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Sugar-Sweetened Drinks Not Heart Smart for Men

by Sandy Todd Webster on Apr 19, 2012

Food for Thought

If the “empty” calories in sugary beverages haven’t been enough to persuade many men to hydrate in a healthier way, perhaps knowing they have a 20% higher risk of heart disease and increased levels of harmful blood lipids because of the sugary drinks will do the trick.

Recent research led by Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, and published in the March 20, 2012, issue of the journal Circulation (doi:10.1161/circulationaha.111.067017), adds to the growing evidence that sugary drinks are detrimental to cardiovascular health. Men who drank a 12-ounce sugar-sweetened beverage every day had a 20% higher risk of heart disease than men who didn’t consume any sugar-sweetened drinks. “Certainly, it provides strong justification for reducing sugary beverage consumption among patients, and more importantly, in the general population,” Hu said in an American Heart Association press release.

Overview. Researchers studied 42,883 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and found that the result persisted even after controlling for other risk factors, including smoking, physical inactivity, alcohol use and family history of heart disease. Less frequent consumption (twice weekly and twice monthly) didn’t increase risk.

Researchers also measured blood lipids and blood proteins, including the inflammation marker C-reactive protein (CRP), triglycerides and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). These serve as biomarkers for heart disease. Compared with nondrinkers, men who consumed a sugary beverage each day had higher triglyceride and CRP levels and lower levels of HDL cholesterol. Artificially sweetened beverages were not linked to higher risk or increased biomarkers for heart disease in this study.

Health habits of the men in the study may differ from those of the general public, but findings in women were comparable in the 2009 Nurses’ Health Study, Hu said.

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About the Author

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster is Editor in Chief of IDEA's publications, including the award-winning IDEA FITNESS JOURNAL, the health and fitness industry's leading resource for fitness and wellness professionals worldwide. Sandy joined IDEA in 2001 as executive editor of IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER and IDEA FITNESS MANAGER magazines and was promoted to lead the editorial team in 2003. More than 20 years in magazine publishing, marketing communications and creative services have shaped her straightforward approach to multi-channel communication. Early experience in Los Angeles as a sports writer/reporter, and then enriching years as a managing editor in allied health care publishing have pulled her across a spectrum of stimulating subject matter. Fitness, health and nutrition reside at the perfect center of this content continuum, she feels. A Chicago native, Sandy grew up fully engaged in various competitive sports. Her drive and dedication as an athlete translate to a disciplined work ethic and unwavering appro