According to research, drinking two or more sugar-sweetened beverages a day may expand a woman’s waistline and increase her risk of heart disease and diabetes.
In this study, researchers compared middle-aged and older women who drank two or more sugar-sweetened beverages a day, such as carbonated sodas or flavored waters with added sugar, to women who drank one or less daily. Women consuming two or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day were nearly four times as likely to develop high triglycerides, and were significantly more likely to increase their waist sizes and to develop impaired fasting glucose levels. The same associations were not observed in men.
Women who drank more than two sugar-sweetened beverages a day had increasing waist sizes, but weren’t necessarily gaining weight. These women also developed high triglycerides and women with normal blood glucose levels more frequently went from having a low risk to a high risk of developing diabetes over time.
Most people assume that individuals who consume a lot of sugar-sweetened beverages have an increase in obesity, which in turn, increases their risk for heart disease and diabetes. Although this does occur, this study showed that risk factors for heart disease and stroke developed even when the women didn’t gain weight.
Women may have a greater chance for developing cardiovascular disease risk factors from sugar-sweetened drinks because they require fewer calories than men which makes each calorie count more towards cardiovascular risk in women, Shay said.
Researchers have yet to determine exactly how sugar-sweetened beverages influence cardiovascular risk factors such as high triglycerides in individuals who do not gain weight, Shay said, but further work is planned to try and figure that out.