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Sugary drinks in teens linked to risk for cardiovascular disease

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Posted June 8, 2013

New research from the Raine Study at Perth’s Telethon Institute for Child Health Research shows teenagers who drink more than one standard can (375g) of sugary drinks a day are putting themselves at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, such as heart disease or stroke, later in their lives.

The study found that teenagers who drank about a can of soft drink a day had lower levels of ‘good’ cholesterol and higher levels of the ‘bad’ triglyceride form of fat in their blood, regardless of whether they were overweight.

Based on a combination of factors associated with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, including weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, these teenagers were at higher risk of developing cardiometabolic disease later in life.

The study, published in the latest edition of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, followed more than 1,400 teenagers aged between 14 and 17 years from the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study.

Lead researcher, Dr Gina Ambrosini who conducted the analyses at MRC Human Nutrition Research in Cambridge, UK, said “It is already widely accepted that a high consumption of sugary drinks increases obesity risk in young people. What is important about this study is that excessive sugary drink consumption appears to increase risk factors for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, even in young people who are not overweight.”

“This study shows that greater intakes of sugary drinks may put young people on a path to the early development of risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”

Study co-author and head of nutrition research at the Telethon Institute, Professor Wendy Oddy, said that the findings of this study also suggested an important role for parents in monitoring sugary drink consumption in their teens.

She said that results from the latest Australian National Nutrition Survey found 55 per cent of all sugary drinks were consumed at home and low income families drank more sugary drinks and had a higher risk of obesity.

“This highlights the potential for parents to influence how much sugary drink their children have as they are the main purchaser of food and beverages consumed at home,” Professor Oddy said.

“Consumption should be moderate so if kids are drinking a lot of sugary drinks, they should drink less,” said Professor Oddy.  “Water is the best option or consider switching to lower sugar alternatives or diet drinks.”

A better understanding of the relationship between sugary drink intake and the increased risk of cardiovascular disease in young people is required to develop public health and nutrition policy to tackle this issue.

Source: Child Health Research

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