Sugary Drinks Tied to Belly Fat
Consuming sugary drinks on a regular basis can lead to more belly fat.
But it’s not just about how you look.
Belly fat (technically called visceral fat) in the midsection wraps around internal organs, including the liver and pancreas, and affects the function of hormones such as insulin. Insulin dysfunction, and becoming resistant to insulin, is associated with type 2 diabetes and a higher risk of heart disease.
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health used data from about 1,000 adult participants in the Framingham Heart Study in Framingham, Massachusetts, who answered questions about sugar-sweetened beverages and diet soda. About a third said they never consumed sugar-sweetened beverages, 20 percent did so occasionally, 35 percent drank them frequently and 13 percent said they drank them daily.
At the study start, participants underwent a CT scan to measure quantity and volume of abdominal fat tissue. Six years later, they were given another scan.
During that time, belly fat volume increased by 658 cubic centimeters for non-sugary drinkers, slightly more for occasional and frequent drinkers, but by 852 cubic centimeters for daily drinkers.
For daily drinkers, that’s an increase of about 1.8 pounds of abdominal fat. Diet soda wasn’t found to be linked to an increase in visceral fat.
The American Heart Association recommends a limit of 100 calories per day of added sugars (such as those found in sweetened beverages) for most women, and 150 calories per day for most men.
Drinking one 12-ounce soda a day exceeds that amount.
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