Even a little is harmful: New study suggests having even two cans of soda per week increases risk of metabolic syndrome, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke

We have reached a sad state of affairs, where soda is now a must in our diet, even when we know them to be detrimental to our health. Medical researchers hope that by providing new reasons to stop indulging in these sugary drinks, we will see the light — and soon. Recently, researchers have concluded that drinking even a can (or two) of soda a week can significantly damage the body.

The new study, which was published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society, found that drinking soft drinks increased the risk of weight gain, high fat levels in the blood or triglycerides, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, and lowered HDL or good cholesterol levels.

To dig deeper on the association of soda consumption and health risks, researchers at Stellenbosch University in South Africa reviewed 36 various studies published in the last ten years on individuals who drank at least five sugary drinks per week and the risk factors of sugar-sweetened beverages. They concentrated on overall trends because some new research had neutral or negative conclusions. Yet, most of the data provided enough proof to explain the association between soda and weight gain and the risk of metabolic syndrome.

The review showed that drinking a 12-ounce can of soda a day can increase blood pressure, while consuming two cans of soda a week can raise the risk of metabolic syndrome, such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. A 12-ounce can of a regular soda has 39 g of total sugar or 140 calories. The American Heart Association recommends that men should not consume more than 37.5 g of added sugars or 150 calories per day, while women should not consume more than 25 g or 100 calories.

In addition, results revealed that the regular consumption of sugary drinks, usually five sweetened beverages a week, can affect the levels of insulin that lead to the development of type-2 diabetes. The study also showed that there was a 17 percent reduction in insulin sensitivity among individuals who drank sugary drinks for 10 weeks. Moreover, frequently drinking soda is associated to hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults and teenagers who smoke, do not get enough sleep, lack physical activity, eat fast food often, and do not eat fruit regularly are more likely to be frequent drinkers of sugar-sweetened beverages.

“The increased prevalence of cardiometabolic disorders is strongly linked to greater urbanization and the adoption of detrimental lifestyle choices that include sedentary behavior, smoking, and poor dietary preferences,” explained Faadiel Essop, who was the senior author of the study.

He added that extra sugar intake has become one of the most notable global dietary changes over the previous decades. It is also considered a main cause of cardiometabolic diseases onset.

The CDC also noted that sugary drinks are the main sources of added sugars in the American diet. In fact, six in 10 teens and five in 10 adults in 2011 to 2014 consumed at least one sugar-sweetened drink a day. On average, young Americans consume 143 calories from these drinks per day, while American adults consume 145 calories.

Aside from increasing the risk for metabolic syndrome, too much sugar intake is also associated with kidney diseases, non-alcoholic liver diseases, tooth decay and cavities, and gout. Essop noted that the results of their study indicate that the public needs to be educated about the dangerous effects of excessive intake of sugary drinks.

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