You Probably Can't 'Exercise Away' the Calories in Sodas: Study

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Key Takeaways

  • Working out won’t eliminate the risk to heart health posed by sugary drinks

  • People consuming sugary drinks more than twice a week had a higher risk of heart disease, regardless of their physical activity levels

  • Artificially sweetened beverages were not associated with heart risk

MONDAY, Feb. 12, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Don’t expect to sweat away the heart risks posed by sugary sodas and drinks, a new study warns.

Canadian researchers found that even if the recommended 150 minutes of weekly physical activity protects against cardiovascular disease, it’s not enough to counter the adverse effects of sugar-sweetened beverages.

“Physical activity reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with sugar-sweetened beverages by half, but it does not fully eliminate it,” said researcher Jean-Philippe Drouin-Chartier, an assistant professor with Université Laval’s Faculty of Pharmacy in Quebec, said in a university news release.

Researchers noted that sugar-sweetened drinks are the largest source of added sugars in the North American diet.

For the study, they analyzed data on about 100,000 adults who were followed for an average of three decades.

Those who consumed sugar-sweetened beverages more than twice a week had a higher risk of heart disease, regardless of their physical activity levels.

With daily consumption, the risk of heart disease is even higher, researchers noted.

Drouin-Chartier noted that the sugary drinks in the study included sodas, lemonade and fruit cocktails. The study didn’t specifically consider energy drinks, but those also tend to contain heavy doses of sugar.

Artificially sweetened drinks were not associated with higher risk of heart disease, the researchers found.

“Replacing sugar-sweetened beverages by diet drinks is good, because it reduces the amount of sugar. But the best drink option remains water,” Drouin-Chartier said.

The findings “provide further support for public health recommendations and policies to limit people’s intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, as well as to encourage people to meet and maintain adequate physical activity levels,” said lead study author Lorena Pacheco, a research scientist in nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

The new study was recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

More information

Cleveland Clinic has more about sugar and heart disease.

SOURCE: Université Laval, news release, Feb. 8, 2024

What This Means For You

Cutting out sugary drinks in favor of water or artificially sweetened beverages will improve a person’s heart health, researchers say.

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