A recent study led by Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health challenges the notion that the benefits of physical activity outweigh the risks of cardiovascular disease associated with drinking sugar-sweetened beverages. Professor Jean-Philippe Drouin-Chartier from Université Laval’s Faculty of Pharmacy co-authored the study.
Sugar-sweetened beverages, the primary source of added sugars in the North American diet, are linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death worldwide.
Contrary to common belief, consuming sugary drinks regularly, even if physically active, increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the research. The study, spanning around 100,000 adults over approximately 30 years, revealed that those who consumed sugar-sweetened beverages more than twice a week faced elevated cardiovascular disease risk regardless of their physical activity levels.
While physical activity can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with sugary drinks by half, it does not entirely negate it, emphasizing the importance of addressing sugary drink consumption in public health strategies.
The study highlights the need to tackle the widespread availability of sugar-sweetened beverages in the food environment, including soft drinks, lemonade, and fruit cocktails. Although not specifically examined in this study, energy drinks, which often contain added sugars, are also cause for concern.
In contrast, artificially sweetened drinks, presented as alternatives, were not associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases. However, water remains the healthiest beverage choice.
The findings underscore the importance of public health recommendations to limit sugar-sweetened beverage intake and promote adequate physical activity levels.
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