Sugary Drinks Associated with Abnormal Cholesterol and Triglycerides in Middle-Aged and Older Adults

Drinking sugary drinks when in middle age and older can lead to abnormal cholesterol, a new study suggests.

“The results suggest that high intake of drinks with added sugar, such as soda, lemonade or fruit punch, may influence risk for dyslipidemia as we age,” said corresponding author Nicola McKeown, nutritional epidemiologist at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA), said in a news release. “One dietary strategy to help maintain healthier blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels may be to avoid drinks with added sugars.”

The analysis, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, looked at two major sources of sugar in U.S. diets: sugar-sweetened beverages and 100% fruit juices, as well as low-calorie sweetened beverages often used as replacements. The authors took fasting plasma lipoprotein concentrations in the Framingham Offspring Study (n=3,146) and Generation Three (n=3,584) cohorts. They then ascertained beverage intake using questionnaires, grouping them into five intake categories. They used Cox proportional hazard models to estimated hazard ratios for incident dyslipidemia.

According to their results, regular consumption of sugary beverages (more than one serving per day) was linked with a higher mean decrease in HDL-C (P for trend<0.0001) and increased triglyceride concentrations (P for trend=0.003) . The long-term regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages coincided with a higher incidence of high triglyceride levels compared with those who consumed low amounts of sugary drinks. They also reported that cumulative average intakes of low-calorie sweetened beverages were not linked with changes in non-HDL-C, LDL-C concentrations, or incident dyslipidemias.

“With these younger participants, we did see unfavorable changes, but they were likely too young during the short follow-up period to know if they would eventually develop dyslipidemia,” first author Danielle Haslam said in a press release. “Our findings contribute to the mounting evidence that sugary drinks should be avoided to help maintain long-term health.”