Although this is the first time heart failure has specifically been investigated, there already exists a wealth of data on sweetened drinks’ impacts on other health issues.
Research conducted in 2004 found that adolescents consumed an average of 300 calories per day from sugar-sweetened drinks, accounting for 13% of their daily caloric intake.
Due to the prevalence of sweetened drinks in the general population’s diet and their negative health potential, this is an area worthy of further investigation.
Previous research has also shown that people who consume 1-2 cans of sugary drinks per day or more have a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people who rarely have such drinks.
Another study, which lasted 22 years and involved 80,000 women, found that those who consumed a can a day of sugary drinks had a 75% higher risk of gout than women who rarely had such drinks.
According to recent research carried out by Susanna Larsson, PhD, at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, heart failure may be the next evil to join sweetened drinks’ list of woes.
The heart failure epidemic
Heart failure is defined by the National, Heart, Lung and Blood Institute as a situation when the “heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.”
Fast facts about heart failure
- About 5.1 million people in the US have heart failure
- Currently, there is no cure for the condition
- Men have a higher rate of heart failure than women.
Heart failure affects 23 million people worldwide. Worryingly, heart failure appears to be on the rise, especially in men and the elderly. Survival estimates for heart failure patients are only 50% at 5 years and 10% at 10 years.
This upward trend has been described as a “cardiovascular epidemic with the potential to become a global public health crisis.” Despite this, the data linking heart failure to nutritional factors is relatively sparse.
A recent review found fewer than 20 observational studies investigating the relationship between nutrition and heart failure, and the majority of those studies have investigated negative correlations between heart failure and eating healthfully, rather than the negative impacts of diet.
Larsson’s new study, published in the BMJ, hopes to shed additional light on heart failure’s potential causes.
Two servings or more per day increases heart failure risk by 23%
The study’s participants were taken from the Cohort of Swedish Men (COSM). These individuals all lived in Sweden and were born between 1918 and 1952.
The COSM consists of 48,850 men who completed a questionnaire covering a number of parameters, such as physical activity, diet, anthropometric traits and various other lifestyle factors.
Prior to analysis, the research team removed a number of individuals, including those with baseline cancer and existing heart problems; this left them with 42,400 eligible participants who they followed for 12 years.
The COSM questionnaire asked the group “How many soft drinks or sweetened juice drinks do you drink per day or per week?” Fruit juice was not included in the definition of sweetened beverages.
The results, in simple terms:
“Men who consumed at least two servings per day of sweetened beverages had a 23% higher risk of heart failure, compared with non-consumers.”
Researchers observed this effect, despite adjusting for potentially confounding variables including smoking, caffeine intake, weight, daily amount of physical activity, diabetes, hypertension, fruit intake and processed meat intake.
This current research is yet another compelling strand of evidence adding to the weight of negative impacts attributed to sweetened drinks.
Written by Tim Newman