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Jan 12, 2016 07:58 AM EST

Sugary beverages linked to visceral fat

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A new study has revealed that daily consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages can cause a 27% increase in visceral adipose tissue over time, Clinical Endocrinology News reports.

The study was published online on Jan. 11 in Circulation.

Dr. Caroline Fox of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Framingham Heart Study and Population Sciences Branch said in a press release.

"There is evidence linking sugar-sweetened beverages with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Our message to consumers is to follow the current dietary guidelines and to be mindful of how much sugar-sweetened beverages they drink. "

"To policy makers, this study adds another piece of evidence to the growing body of research suggesting sugar-sweetened beverages may be harmful to our health", She added.

The recently updated dietary guidelines by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend limiting the intake of sugar to less than 10% of daily caloric intake.

According to the study, increase in abdominal adipose tissue is linked to cardio metabolic risk. Also, visceral adipose tissue (VAT) is linked to the type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

"Visceral fat is the kind that's closely associated with the risks of type 2 diabetes and heart disease," said Alice Lichtenstein, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association (AHA), who was not involved in the study, according to Health.

For the study, the researchers used data from about 1,000 adult participants in the Framingham Heart Study in Framingham, Massachusetts, 

Over a period of 6 years, the researchers found more sugar-sweetened beverage consumption was associated with greater change in VAT volume.

 "In this prospective observational study of middle-aged adults, we observed that individuals who consumed at least one serving of sugar-sweetened beverages per day ... had a 27% greater increase in VAT volume over 6 years compared to non-consumers," the investigators wrote.

Jean Welsh of Emory University in Atlanta, who was not part of the new study, told Reuters Health.

"Water and milk are the healthiest beverage choices. Sugary beverage consumers who are looking to reduce their sugar and calorie consumption may find that diet soda consumption helps - but only as long as they are careful to not eat more of something else."

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute funded the study.

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