Sugar Drinks Linked to Increased Heart Risk in Men

March 13, 2012, 8:35 AM HST · Updated March 13, 10:12 AM
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Photo courtesy American Heart Association.

By Wendy Osher

A new study shows that men who drank a 12-ounce sugar-sweetened beverage daily, had a 20% higher risk of heart disease compared to those who didn’t drink any sugar-sweetened drinks.

The results are part of a new study released this week by the Hawai‘i State Department of Health and the Hawai‘i Chapter of the American Heart Association.

The study followed more than 42,000 men over the course of 20 years, with participants ranging in age from 40 to 75.

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The results of the study were also published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

“The study supports this administration’s work to educate the public in making healthier choices, including drinking less sugar,” said Health Director Loretta Fuddy.

“We stand with the American Heart Association today in the fight to reduce cardiovascular disease in Hawai‘i by arming the public with the newest and best information to make healthier choices and help reduce chronic disease and prevent obesity,” she said.

Officials with the American Heart Association have expressed support for policy efforts that reduce coronary heart disease and its risk factors like obesity.

“We need to create healthy environments where the healthiest choice is the easy choice in terms of price and availability. Sugar-sweetened beverages are the largest single source of sugar in our diets, and provide no nutritional benefits,” said Dr. Corilee Watters, advocate and spokesperson for the American Heart Association.

According to state data, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Hawai‘i, with 2,900 deaths attributed to cardiovascular disease in 2009.  Risk factors identified for heart disease include obesity, smoking, physical inactivity, diabetes and poor diet.

The American Heart Association recommends that no more than half of discretionary calories come from added sugars.  That equates to no more than 150 calories per day for most men, and 100 for most women.

The study found that less frequent consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages — twice weekly and twice monthly — didn’t increase risk.

The state Department of Health in Hawaii launched its “Take the LEAP” campaign in 2010 to educate Hawai‘i residents about the risks associated with obesity and over consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks.

Health officials plan to continue the public education effort, and urge healthier choices.

***Supporting information courtesy Hawaii State Department of Health & American Heart Association.

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