Many drinks sweetened with sugar have little or no nutritional value and many calories, and the harmful effects on health have been well documented. Now, a study links the consumption of too many sweet drinks, and even 100% natural fruit juice, with a higher risk of early death.
In particular, drinking excessive amounts of fruit juice can cause an increased risk of premature death which varies from 9% to 42%, according to the study, published on Friday in the magazine Open the JAMA Network.
In general, sugars are found in orange juice, even though they occur naturally, They are very similar to sugar added to soft drinks and other sweet drinks, studies show.
"Sweet drinks, whether soft drinks or fruit juices, should be limited", Jean A. Welsh, study co-author and assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University in Atlanta, wrote in an email.
Relationship to cardiovascular disease
Seven US cities, including New York and, recently, Philadelphia, have registered tax on drinks sweetened with added sugar in an effort to reduce consumption. This law often highlights how soda and other sweet drinks contribute to the epidemic of obesity among children and high rates of diabetes among adults.
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The new study defines "sweet drinks" as thirsty quenchers sweetened with sugar, such as infusion of fruit-flavored soft drinks and 100% natural fruit juice that does not add sugar. So, How does fruit juice accumulate against soda?
"Previous research has shown that high sugar intake, such as soft drinks and fruit juices, is associated with several risk factors for cardiovascular disease," Welsh explained. Obesity, diabetes and high triglycerides (a type of fat found in the blood) are some of the risk factors associated with excessive sugar consumption. "Several studies have been able to see how this consumption can affect the risk of death," he said.
To overcome this problem, he and his colleagues directed data from the study "Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke," which sought to understand why more African-Americans die of strokes than other races and why people in the southeast experience more strokes than in other regions of the United States.
From this multiethnic study, Welsh and his co-authors analyzed data from 13,440 adults for 45 years, nearly 60% of men and nearly 71% of men were overweight or obese.
People who consume 10% or more of their daily calories as drinks sweetened with sugar have a risk of dying 44% higher due to coronary heart disease. and a 14% higher risk of premature death from any cause compared to people who consume less than 5% of their daily calories as sweet drinks, the study shows.
Each additional 350 milliliters of fruit juice per day is associated with a 24% higher risk of death for whatever reason, and each additional 350 milliliters of sweet drinks per day is associated with an 11% higher risk. A similar relationship between sweet drinks and death from heart disease was not found.
"When observing the results of drinks and sweet juices independently, we must be clear that the risks presented are relative to those in each of the lowest consumers," Welsh explained.
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I was not surprised by the findings. He and his co-authors say that "a series of possible biological mechanisms" explain the high risk of death. For example, research shows that sweet drinks increase insulin resistance, which is known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, while consumption of fructose can stimulate hormones that increase body weight around the waist, which is another risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
The recommended amount of fruit juice
This is one of the first studies to examine the relationship between sweet drinks, including 100% fruit juice, and early death, writes Marta Guasch-Ferré, research scientist at the Harvard Nutrition Department, School of Public Health T.H. Chan and Dr. Frank B. Hu, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, in an editorial published together with new research.
However, this research is limited to what he can convey to us, said Guasch-Ferré and Hu, who did not participate in the study. Because there are so few deaths associated with coronary heart disease, the analysis here is considered weak; more time and more participants might give a stronger signal in any way. Too, consumption of sugary drinks from each participant was recorded only at the beginning of the study, based entirely on the information itself, which was considered unreliable.
"Although fruit juice may not be as dangerous as a beverage sweetened with sugar, consumption must be moderate in children and adults, especially for people who want to control their weight, "wrote Guasch-Ferré and Hu.
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Recommendation for children between 1 and 6 years of age must limit consumption of fruit juice to 170 milliliters per day, while children aged 7 years and over, teenagers and adults must limit fruit juice to 230 milliliters per day, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
"More research is needed to examine the health risks and potential benefits of certain fruit juices," said Guasch-Ferré and Hu.
Welsh says we should consider fruit juices and sweet drinks when we think of the amount of sugar we consume every day. Between the two, he tipped the scales for fruit juice: "Considering the vitamins and minerals, small amounts of fruit juice can have beneficial effects not seen with soda and other sweet drinks".