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Sugary Drinks May Increase the Risk of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

A recent study suggests that drinking more than one sugar sweetened drink per day may increase the risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Sugar sweetened drinks contain fructose, the sugar that is believed to increase the risk of NAFLD.

NAFLD is the accumulation of fat in the liver that is unrelated to drinking alcohol. People with NAFLD are at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes.

Participants in the study included 2,634 people who filled out self-reported dietary questionnaires as participants in the National Heart Lunch and Blood Institute Framingham Heart Study's Offspring and Third Generation cohorts. Most of them were Caucasian and middle-aged. Sugar sweetened drinks included caffeinated and caffeine-free soda, other carbonated drinks that included sugar, fruit punches, lemonade, and other non-carbonated fruit drinks.

All of the participants underwent a computer tomography (CT) scan in order to determine the amount of fat they had in their livers. The researchers found that the people who drank more than one sugar sweetened drink per day were more likely to have NAFLD than those who didn’t, even after they controlled for lifestyle factors like age, sex, BMI, and dietary intake.

Researchers from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on June 5, 2015, in the Journal of Hepatology.

Previous studies suggest that the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is linked to the obesity epidemic in the US. Obesity increases the risk of adverse health conditions such as heart disease and stroke, type-2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and osteoarthritis.
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