Study finds that sweetened drinks cause more harm than eating sugary foods

Five researchers found in a clinical study that drinking sweetened beverages may be worse for health than eating sugary foods.

Myupchar October 21, 2019 13:43:06 IST
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Study finds that sweetened drinks cause more harm than eating sugary foods
  • Five researchers found in a clinical study that drinking sweetened beverages may be worse for health than eating sugary foods

  • Other studies have also shown that there is a relation between the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain in children as well as adults

  • In addition to weight gain, eating (or drinking) too much sugar can lead to several heart diseases including coronary heart disease

India is the second-largest producer of sugar after Brazil. We are also the largest consumer of sugar in the world.

Of course, we know that excess consumption of sugar can lead to type 2 diabetes, obesity and eventually cardiovascular disease.

Study finds that sweetened drinks cause more harm than eating sugary foods

Representational image. Image source: Getty Images.

Sugars are simple carbohydrates. When they enter the body with our food, the pancreas produces insulin to mop up the blood sugar and carry it to individual cells for energy. Too much insulin in the body promotes the growth of fat tissue. And too much fat makes us vulnerable to a plethora of diseases.

What’s new?

Five researchers — four from China and one from the UK’s University of Aberdeen — found in a clinical study that drinking sweetened beverages may be worse for health than eating sugary foods.

The researcher looked at the impact of white sugar on body weight regulation in mice. They divided the mice into three groups: group one was given a solid form of sucrose, the second group was given a low-calorie solid sucrose diet along with sucrose water and the last one was given sucrose water exclusively. After eight weeks, the group that had access to liquid sucrose had gained significantly more body weight and body fat.

Sugars are used to sweeten, preserve, and improve the functional attributes of foods and beverages. Basically, they make most things yummy and increase the shelflife in jams, murabbas and packaged food.

Most aerated drinks, fruit drinks, energy and vitamin water drinks contain sucrose, glucose and fructose.

Other studies have also shown that there is a relation between the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and weight gain in children as well as adults. SSBs usually contain energy-boosting sweeteners such as sucrose (50% glucose, 50% fructose), high-fructose corn syrup, or fruit juice concentrates that are added to the beverage by manufacturers.

Why is sugar so bad for health?

We know that eating too many desserts can add inches to the waist. In addition to weight gain, eating (or drinking) too much sugar can lead to several heart diseases including coronary heart disease. Added sugar in the diet may lead to acne. Even excessive intake of fruit juice can lead to type 2 diabetes in some cases. Sugary beverages can also lead to premature cell ageing which leads to premature ageing and low immunity.

Too much fructose and sucrose (two forms of sugar) are one of the causes of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition in which excessive fat builds up in the liver.

So how much sugar should you have in a day? The World Health Organization recommends keeping it around six teaspoons (25g) a day - this include naturally occurring or free sugar from fruits, as well as refined or added sugar.

If not sugar, then what should be included in the diet?

It’s better to avoid processed foods as much as possible since they often have little nutritional value and are packed with harmful preservatives, artificial colours and of course, a lot of sugar.

Your diet must have high-quality, unprocessed foods (some fresh fruits and vegetables) as they contain less free sugar and fat. Foods like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, yoghurt, healthful fats like avocados, nuts and plant-based oils, increase feelings of fullness and help avoid overeating.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has given some guidelines for a low sugar diet:

  • All green leafy vegetables including spinach, colocasia (arbi) leaves, french beans and parsley
  • Proportions of recommended fruits are 1-2 orange/mausami, 7-8 cherries, 10-12 jamun, 5-6 strawberries, 3-4 plums, 1 apple or a bowl of watermelon daily
  • Skimmed or single toned milk
  • Curd or paneer made from single toned milk
  • Whole wheat bread or multi-grain bread
  • 2-3 oat/ wheat cookies per day
  • Clear soup, jasmine tea and fresh lime water instead of soft drinks and soda
  • 10-15 glasses of water daily

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information, read our article on Diabetes: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment.

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