A Soda a Day Increases Belly Fat

Medically Reviewed

People who drink one or more sodas or other sugar-sweetened beverages a day are more likely to pack on pounds deep in the belly—the type of fat accumulation that’s most dangerous for the heart. Researchers suspect that these beverages increase these visceral fat deposits by triggering insulin resistance.

For a study in the January 2016 Circulation, researchers asked 1,003 middle-aged adults about their beverage-drinking habits and used computed tomography (CT) scans to measure the amount of fat in their abdomen. About six years later, they repeated the scans.

They found that people who drank soda or sugar-sweetened beverages every day put on 29 percent more visceral fat than those who avoided these beverages—nearly half a pound more. By contrast, people who drank diet soda did not put on extra visceral fat.

Also of interest, the daily soda drinkers did not add extra subcutaneous fat—the type that appears just below the skin and is much less harmful to health.

Regular soda is sweetened with table sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, both of which contribute to diabetes and heart disease. Whether you call it soda or pop, the findings of this study underscore the importance of keeping it and other sugar-sweetened drinks out of your daily routine.

Learn about how sugar can negatively impact your blood pressure.