CHICAGO - Eating a lot of sugar not only makes you fat. It may also
increase a person's risk for heart disease, U.S. researchers said.
They said people who ate more added sugar were more likely to have higher risk
factors for heart disease, such as higher triglycerides and lower levels of
protective high-density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol.
"Just like eating a high-fat diet can increase your levels of triglycerides and
high cholesterol, eating sugar can also affect those same lipids," Dr. Miriam
Vos of Emory School of Medicine, who worked on the study published in the
Journal of the American Medical Association, said in a statement.
The study adds to mounting pressure on U.S. food companies to make their foods
healthier as newly passed U.S. health reform legislation shifts the nation's
focus on ways to prevent, rather than simply treat disease.
A report by the influential Institute of Medicine released on Tuesday
recommended that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration start to regulate sodium
intake in foods.
And several states, including New York and California, have weighed a tax on
sweetened soft drinks to defray the cost of treating obesity-related diseases.
The addition of sweeteners to prepared foods and beverages in recent decades has
sharply increased Americans' daily intake of sugar and overall calories,
according to Vos and colleagues.
But no major studies have looked at the impact of too much sugar on levels of
fat in the blood.
The researchers asked 6,000 adults what they ate and then grouped them by sugar
intake and cholesterol levels.
On average, nearly 16 percent of people's daily calories came from added sugar.
The highest-consuming group ate an average of 46 teaspoons of added sugar per
day, while the lowest-consuming group ate an average of only about 3 teaspoons
"It would be important for long-term health for people to start looking at how
much added sugar they're getting and finding ways to reduce that," Vos said in a
Too much sugar not only contributes to obesity, but also is a key culprit in
diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, according to the
American Heart Association.
The association warned last August that Americans need to cut back dramatically
on sugar consumption, recommending that women eat no more than 100 calories per
day of added processed sugar a day, or six teaspoons (25 grams), while men
should keep it to just 150 calories of added processed sugar per said or nine
teaspoons (37.5 grams).
Kelly Brownell of Yale University told Reuters last month a penny-per-ounce
(penny-per-28 grams) tax on soft drinks could cut the consumption of
sugar-sweetened drinks by the average American from 50 gallons (189 liters)
annually to 38.5 gallons (146 liters).
He expects such a tax could also cut healthcare costs by about $50 billion over
10 years and raise $150 billion in revenue over the same period.
The American Beverage Association says sugar-sweetened drinks do not pose any
particular health risk, and are not a unique risk factor for obesity or heart
Source : Reuters