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Sugar-sweetened beverages are among the leading contributors to sugar intake among people living in the United States. Examples of sugar-sweetened beverages include regular soda (not sugar-free), sports drinks, energy drinks, and coffees, teas, and waters that contain added sugars. Data from a new study indicate that sugar-sweetened beverage consumption is associated with dyslipidemia.

Dyslipidemia is a condition in which blood levels of lipids (such as cholesterol or triglycerides) are abnormal. It is recognized as one of the primary risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Most dyslipidemias are characterized by high plasma cholesterol or triglycerides (or both), or low HDL cholesterol. Nearly half of all adults living in the United States have some form of dyslipidemia.

The study involved more than 6,700 people enrolled in two different cohorts of the Framingham Heart Study. At various time points during the study, the participants provided complete medical histories, underwent physical exams, and completed lab tests to assess total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. They also completed questionnaires about their lifestyles and diet, including beverage intake. Participants were followed for an average of 12.5 years.

The data revealed that consuming more than 12 ounces of sugar-sweetened beverages per day increased the risk of having high triglycerides by 53 percent and having low HDL cholesterol by 98 percent. Consuming low-calorie sweetened beverages (e.g., “diet” drinks) or up to 12 ounces of 100 percent fruit juice was not associated with dyslipidemia.

These findings suggest that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages increases the risk of dyslipidemia and underscores the role of nutrition in reducing risk factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease.

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