EMORY (US)—Added sugars in processed foods and beverages may increase cardiovascular disease risk factors, according to the first study of its kind to examine the association between the consumption of added sugars and lipid measures.
Researchers found that people who consumed more added sugar were more likely to have higher cardiovascular disease risk factors, including higher triglyceride levels and higher ratios of triglycerides to HDL-C, or good cholesterol.
“Just like eating a high-fat diet can increase your levels of triglycerides and high cholesterol, eating sugar can also affect those same lipids,” says study coauthor Miriam Vos, assistant professor of pediatrics at Emory University.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, analyzed U.S. government nutritional data and blood lipid levels in more than 6,000 adult men and women between 1999 and 2006. The study subjects were divided into five groups according to the amount of added sugar and caloric sweeteners they consumed daily.
In the United States, total consumption of sugar has increased substantially in recent decades, largely due to an increased intake of “added sugars,” defined as caloric sweeteners used by the food industry and consumers as ingredients in processed or prepared foods to increase the desirability of these foods, Vos and colleagues note.
The highest-consuming group in the study consumed an average of 46 teaspoons of added sugars per day. The lowest-consuming group consumed an average of only about 3 teaspoons daily.
“It would be important for long-term health for people to start looking at how much added sugar they’re getting and finding ways to reduce that,” says Vos.
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