Just two cans of fizzy pop a day increases your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke, a new study concludes.
And while artificially sweetened drinks may be preferable to sugary drinks in the short-term, the Harvard University study warned their long-term health effects needed to be explored.
The most comprehensive review yet claims two daily sugary drinks increased the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by a quarter (26 per cent), the risk of heart attack or fatal heart disease by a third (35 per cent) and the risk of stroke by a sixth (16 per cent).
It was found half of the US population consumes these drinks every day, with one in four getting at least 200 calories from them and 5 per cent consuming more than 500 calories per day – the equivalent of four cans.
Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology Dr Frank Hu said: “This is particularly concerning as the research shows that consuming one or more sugar-sweetened beverages a day has been linked to greater weight gain and obesity in numerous published studies.
“Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages can lead to weight gain because the liquid calories are not filling, and so people don’t reduce their food intake at subsequent meals.
“Our findings underscore the urgent need for public health strategies that reduce the consumption of these drinks.”
The study also looked at the unique role fructose may play as in the US high fructose corn syrup is used as a cheap alternative to sugar (sucrose) in drinks and foods.
Prof Hu added “part of the problem is how fructose behaves in the body.”
It is metabolised in the liver where it can be converted to fatty compounds called triglycerides, which may lead to fatty liver disease and insulin resistance, a key risk factor for developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Too much fructose can even lead to gout, a painful inflammatory condition.
Prof Hu said additional research was needed to explore the health effects of different types of sugars and how liquid versus solid forms of sugar affect the body.
But he concluded: “Although reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages or added sugar alone is unlikely to solve the obesity epidemic entirely, limiting intake is one simple change that will have a measurable impact on weight control and prevention of cardio-metabolic diseases.”
The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. – Mirror