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Can Sugary Drinks Lead to High Blood Pressure?

You may have heard that two of the most common health problems facing adults today are diabetes and obesity. What you may not know is that many people who suffer from these conditions also tend to have other medical problems, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Health experts think that one factor that has lead to higher obesity rates is the fact that people today drink more sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) than ever before. SSBs include soda, energy drinks, flavored ice tea, and many boxed juices.

All the added sugars in these drinks can cause you to gain weight, because more sugar means more calories. In addition, according to the results of a new study, drinking SSBs may also lead to high blood pressure.

The research

Can Sugary Drinks Lead to High Blood PressureThis new study combined the results of 12 previous studies and included more than 400,000 people. The study included people aged 12 and older, and they were followed for up to 38 years. The people in the study answered questions about how often they drank SSBs and how much they drank.

The researchers also kept track of people’s blood levels and how many of them had high blood pressure (hyptertension), as judged by their healthcare providers.

They wanted to know if there was a link between drinking SSBs and getting high blood pressure.

The results

The results of the study showed that:

  • People who drank SSBs were as much as three-quarters (75%) more likely to get high blood pressure than people who drank none.
  • The more SSBs that people drank each day, the greater their risk for getting high blood pressure.
  • The longer a person had been regularly drinking SSBs, the greater their risk for high blood pressure.
  • The link between drinking SSBs and high blood pressure did not depend on age. Everyone who drank SSBs saw some increase in blood pressure, from teenagers to older adults.

What do these results mean for you?

The first important thing to understand is that the results of this study don’t prove that drinking soda or other SSBs causes high blood pressure. A different type of study would be needed to show this.

There are many different ways that scientists think SSBs could lead to high blood pressure. For example, drinking lots of soda can lead to weight gain, and being overweight or obese raises your risk for high blood pressure. They also think that some of the chemicals found in some SSBs could prevent blood vessels from relaxing, which can lead to a rise in blood pressure.

So, even though not everyone who drinks SSBs will get high blood pressure, there are many reasons why it’s a good idea to limit the amount you drink to no more than 12-ounces (one can of soda) once or twice a week.

The take home points

  • People today drink more sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) than ever before.
  • SSBs include soda, energy drinks, boxed juices, flavored iced teas, and flavored water.
  • Drinking SSBs can increase your risk of getting high blood pressure.
  • SSBs have a lot of calories, which means that drinking too many of them can lead to weight gain. This could be one of the ways they cause high blood pressure.
  • In order to maintain good health, it’s a good idea to limit the amount of SSBs you drink to no more than 12-ounces, once or twice a week.

 

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24630785

Robert Ehrman, MD (45 Articles)

Dr. Robert Ehrman, MD is a Board Certified Emergency Physician. He completed his training in Emergency Medicine at Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, CT and Cook County Hospital in Chicago, IL. He always reminds his patients that the more they take care for their health each day, the less likely they are to visit him again in the ER!

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