Fizzy drinks a predictor of future health problems, Australian study

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 4th April 2012

Researchers from the University of Sydney have found that 12-year-olds who drink one or more fizzy drinks or cordial a day have narrower arteries in the back of their eyes, increasing their chances of heart disease and high blood pressure in later life.

The study looked at around two thousand 12-year-old children in 21 high schools in Sydney. It was an extension of a study that last year found similar damage to children who watch too much television. The damage does not affect their vision.

Lead author of the study, Dr Bamini Gopinath said, “We measured their total carbohydrate intake over the whole day from foods like bread, rice and pasta. By examining the back of the eyes, we can see the health of a person’s blood vessel system.”

The study found that children with a high consumption of soft drinks and carbohydrates had a more adverse micro-vascular profile compared to those who did not drink so many soft drinks or eat so many carbohydrates.

Dr Gopinath said, “Retinal micro-vascular diameter is a potential marker for future cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure in adults. This is the first study to show that the effect of carbohydrates and fizzy drinks in childhood is linked to a narrowing of the vessels in the retina.

Dr Gopinath said she would be very interested to see whether the damage persisted, once data from the follow-up study on the same children at age 17 was analysed.