Excess sugar increases risk of dying from cardiovascular disease

February 11, 2014 in Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

Excess sugar increases risk of dying from cardiovascular disease

According to a new study, many U.S. adults consume more added sugar (added in processing or preparing of foods, not naturally occurring as in fruits and fruit juices) than expert panels recommend for a healthy diet. What’s more, consumption of added sugar was associated with increased risk for death from cardiovascular disease (CVD) – people who get more than 25 percent of their daily calories from added sugars almost triple their risk of dying from CVD.

Recommendations for added sugar consumption vary and there is no universally accepted threshold for unhealthy levels. For example, the Institute of Medicine recommends that added sugar make up less than 25 percent of total calories, the World Health Organization recommends less than 10 percent, and the American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to less than 100 calories daily for women and 150 calories daily for men.

Major sources of added sugar in North Americans' diets are sugar-sweetened beverages, grain-based desserts, fruit drinks, dairy desserts and candy. A can of regular soda contains about 35 grams of sugar (almost 9 teaspoons worth).

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, and colleagues used national health survey data to examine added sugar consumption as a percentage of daily calories and to estimate association between consumption and CVD.

Study results indicate that the average percentage of daily calories from added sugar increased from 15.7 percent in 1988-1994 to 16.8 percent in 1999 to 2004 and decreased to 14.9 percent in 2005-2010.

In 2005-2010, most adults (71.4 percent) consumed 10 percent of more of their calories from added sugar and about 10 percent of adults consumed 25 percent or more of their calories from added sugar.

The authors note the risk of dying from CVD increased with a higher percentage of calories from added sugar. Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (7 servings or more per week) was associated with increased risk of dying from CVD.

"Our results support current recommendations to limit the intake of calories from added sugars in U.S. diets," the authors conclude.

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Source: JAMA Internal Medicine, 2014.

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