Study Doesn't Show That Soft Drinks Cause Risk Factors For Heart Disease

Armen Hareyan's picture
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A report in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association does not show that soft drinks cause risk factors for heart disease.

The clarifying statement said that other factors could explain the development of risk factors for heart disease with the people observed in this report. And the AHA made it clear that diet soda is a good option for consumers looking to avoid calories in their beverages.

"The AHA acknowledges that the report published in Circulation does not show that soft drinks cause an increased risk of heart disease and it recognizes that diet soft drinks are a good option for those looking to cut calories in their beverages," said Susan Neely, president and CEO of the American Beverage Association. "We appreciate the AHA clearing up any confusion surrounding this report."

Neely said the report clearly showed no link between soft drinks and increased risk of heart disease, a conclusion supported by several prominent scientists, doctors and nutritionists who looked independently at the report published in Circulation.

"It defied common sense and the existing body of scientific evidence to assert a link between soft drinks and increased risk of heart disease," Neely said. "Even the researchers themselves admit their study can't support a link. Further, it is scientifically implausible to suggest that diet soft drinks -- a beverage that is 99 percent water -- cause weight gain or elevated blood pressure."

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Neely said the assertions being made in the report could apply to any caloric product -- if you over consume any food or beverage with calories, there are health consequences. The AHA concurred with this point in its clarifying statement, saying that " ... it is possible that other factors could explain this relationship. Often people who drink soft drinks also eat and drink more calories, saturated fat and trans fat and less fiber and dairy products. Also, these people tend to be less physically active. This was true among the subjects in this study."

The AHA statement, released this afternoon, reads in part:

"Since this is an observational study, it is important to note that the study does not show that soft drinks cause risk factors for heart disease. It does show that the people studied who drank soft drinks were more likely to develop risk factors for heart disease.

"However, it is possible that other factors could explain this relationship. Often people who drink soft drinks also eat and drink more calories, saturated fat and trans fat and less fiber and dairy products. Also, these people tend to be less physically active. This was true among the subjects in this study.

"While the authors did account for these aforementioned diet and lifestyle factors in the analysis, it is possible that other lifestyle factors still account for the measured increase in risk factors leading to heart disease. As the authors note in the study, more research is needed to understand these associations before any recommendations can be made to the public.

"Diet soda can be a good option to replace caloric beverages that do not contain important vitamins and minerals. The American Heart Association supports dietary patterns that include low-calorie beverages like water, diet soft drinks, and fat-free or low-fat milk as better choices than full calorie soft drinks."

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