Avoid drinking sugar-sweetened beverages thinking you can later sweat it out. Researchers have found in a new study that while exercise can provide some protection against cardiovascular disease, it cannot eliminate the negative effects of sugary drinks.
„Physical activity reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with sugar-sweetened beverages by half, but it does not completely eliminate it,“ said researcher Jean-Philippe Drouin-Chartier from the Faculty of Pharmacy at Université Laval in Quebec, Canada.
Sugar-sweetened beverages such as sodas add a lot of additional sugar to the American diet. These additional calories, when consumed frequently, are often associated with weight gain, obesity, and health problems such as diabetes, heart issues, kidney diseases, liver problems, cavities, arthritis, and gout.
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggests that even if a person meets the recommended 150 minutes of weekly physical activity, it may not be enough to protect them from the cardiovascular risk associated with sugary drinks.
„The marketing strategies for these drinks often show that active people consume them, implying that the consumption of sugary drinks has no negative health effects when one is physically active. Our research aimed to test this hypothesis,“ Drouin-Chartier said.
The research team used two cohorts with a total of approximately 100,000 adults who were followed for about 30 years. Upon analysis, they found that regardless of physical activity, those who consumed sugary drinks more than twice a week had a higher risk for cardiovascular disease.
Consuming sugary drinks twice a week, which is relatively rare, was still significantly associated with the risk for cardiovascular disease. The researchers found that the risk was even higher with daily consumption.
The study looked at sugar-sweetened beverages, including sodas (with or without caffeine), lemonade, and fruit cocktails. Although the study did not specifically focus on energy drinks, it is important to note that they typically also contain added sugar.
„For artificially sweetened beverages, often presented as an alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages, their consumption was not associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease,“ the press release stated.
„Replacing sugary drinks with diet drinks is good because it reduces the amount of sugar. However, the best beverage option remains water,“ Drouin-Chartier said.
„Our findings provide further support for public health recommendations and guidelines to limit the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and encourage people to achieve and maintain an adequate level of physical activity,“ added lead author Lorena Pacheco.