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Sugary Drinks Trump Exercise When Fighting CVD

For decades, doctors and nutritionists have prescribed exercise to combat cardiovascular disease (CVD). But now, there’s new evidence that exercise alone can’t overcome the negative effects of sugary drinks…

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Researchers at Université Laval in Montreal, and Harvard Medical School wanted to gauge the effects of consuming sugar-sweetened beverages on cardio health. And they received some unexpected results…

What they did

According to an abstract of the study report, investigators used two cohorts totalling around 100,000 adults, who had been followed for about 30 years.

They correlated reported sugary beverage consumption with physical exercise the subjects claimed to have performed.

What they found

The data showed that those who consumed sugar-sweetened beverages more than twice a week had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, regardless of physical activity levels.

The study found that even if the recommended 150 minutes of weekly physical activity protects against CVD, it’s not enough to counter the adverse effects of even a small amount of sugar-sweetened beverages.

The takeaway

Looking at it one way, the study results show that consumption of even a few servings of sugar-sweetened beverage a week can cause cardio issues that the recommended amount of exercise can’t ‘cancel out’. The researchers set the study’s threshold for consumption of sugary drinks at a very conservative 2 per week.

Looking at it the other way, physicians need to start recommending more exercise, to help balance the sugar equation.

“Physical activity reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with sugar-sweetened beverages by half, but it does not fully eliminate it,” says Laval Pharmacy Professor Jean-Philippe Drouin-Chartier.

My take

I thought it important that Drouin-Chartier and his team found consumption of non-sugar sweetened drinks was not associated with higher risk of cardiovascular diseases. So it could only have been the sugar that caused the negative affects.

I also noted to myself that folks who drink sugar-sweetened beverages probably consume a significantly higher amount of them than the 2-per-week the study postulated. And Drouin-Chartier confirms that daily consumption leads to a much higher risk of developing CVD.

Clearly, the best defense is an increase in exercise coupled with cutting out sugar-sweetened beverages.

… To which Drouin-Chartier adds, “The best drink option remains water.”

~ Maggie J.