Sugary Sodas, Weight and Cancer Prevention

Two new studies strengthen the link between sugary drinks leading to weight gain and obesity. The research adds powerful new evidence to AICR’s recommendation that people should avoid drinking sugary beverages to reduce cancer risk because what we weigh is important. Obesity links to increased risk of seven types of cancers.

The studies were released on Friday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The new studies provide a strong case for the direct effect of sugary sodas on weight gain, regardless of diet and exercise. The studies were relatively long and experimental: In contrast, the vast majority of long-term studies on sugary beverages  – and diet in general – are observational, meaning that researchers look at any link between what participants drink and their weight.

These experimental studies both focused on how sugary beverages affect the weight of children and adolescents.

The first study took place over two-years and included 224 overweight and obese adolescents who drank almost two sugary beverages a day. About half of the teens were asked to drink water, diet sodas, or other calorie-free beverages instead of their normal sugary drink. The other half continued to drink their sugary beverages as normal. Continue reading


Drinking 200 Sweet Calories per Day

Almost half of Americans drink sugar-sweetened drinks daily, with men consuming close to 200 calories per day from sugary drinks, finds a government report released today.

The survey was conducted by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – you can see the report here. Overall, the report found that men take in an average of 175 calories from sugar drinks on any given day, while women take in 94 calories. (A 12-ounce can of soda has 140 calories.)

Here are some of the report’s key highlights:

  • About one-half of Americans consume sugary drinks on any given day
  • About 25 percent consume less than 200 calories from sugary drinks daily; 5 percent take in at least 567 calories
  • Blacks and Mexican Americans both consume more sugary drinks than whites

In this new CDC survey, sugar-sweetened drinks include fruit drinks (not 100% fruit juice), sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, and sweetened bottled waters. Researchers pulled data from a large national health survey abbreviated NHANES.

For cancer prevention, AICR recommends people avoid sugary drinks. AICR’s expert report and its updates concluded that regularly consuming sugary drinks leads to weight gain, and extra body fat is linked to increased risk of seven different cancers.

Many health organizations, such as the American Heart Association, have recommended Americans reduce their sugar intake. And sugary drinks is one place to start. But for many sugary-soda lovers, it can be a hard habit to break. If anyone has weaned themselves off sugar-sweetened drinks, please share how.


Diet Soda and Weight Gain? In the News

Drinking diet soda may not lead to a trim waist if two new studies making the news are confirmed. That would take a lot more research. The studies were presented at the American Diabetes Association meeting this week. You can read the abstracts, below.

One study looked at the diet soda habits among 500 people ages 65 to 74. After tracking participants for an average of 3.6 years, the researchers found that people who drank more than two servings of diet soda per day had a waist circumference five times greater than those who drank no diet soda.

The second study was an animal study. This study looked at the effect of the artificial sweetener aspartame to insulin.

The mice tested, all prone to diabetes, were divided into two groups. One group was fed aspartame along with its food. After three months, the aspartame-eating mice had higher blood sugar levels and lower insulin levels than the non-aspartame eating mice. The authors write that this was “consistent with early declines in pancreatic beta-cell function,” suggesting it increases the risk of diabetes. (In this study, the aspartame-eating mice did have lower body weight.)

Neither study is published yet and there is currently conflicting data on the effects of diet soda consumption and weight.

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