Damaging metabolic effects for inactive, young, obese people who consume soft drink regularly

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 17th September 2018

WE know drinking soft drink can be bad for the waistline, now a study by Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute researchers provides evidence of the damaging metabolic effects on overweight and obese people who regularly consume soft drink and sit for long periods.

Researchers have quantified the detrimental effects on glucose and lipid metabolism by studying young, obese adults in a ‘real-world’ setting where up to 750ml of soft drink is consumed between meals daily and where prolonged sitting with no activity is the norm.

The results, outlined by PhD candidate Pia Varsamis in the Clinical Nutrition journal, show how habitual soft drink consumption and large periods of sedentary behaviour may set these young adults on the path to serious cardiometabolic diseases such as fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Whilst most studies to date have focused on the relationship between soft drink consumption and obesity, the large amount of added sugars contained in these drinks has additional implications beyond weight control.

Senior author, Professor Bronwyn Kingwell, who heads up the Institute’s Metabolic and Vascular Physiology laboratory, says the acute metabolic effects of soft drink consumption and prolonged sitting identified in this latest study are cause for concern.

“With lifestyle-related diseases such as obesity rising rapidly and sugar sweetened beverages the largest source of added sugars in Western diets, understanding the ‘real world’ health impact is critical in determining ‘real world’ prevention and intervention strategies,” Professor Kingwell says.

She says this study quantified the effects of soft drink consumption compared to water on glucose and lipid metabolism in a context that was reflective of typical daily consumption levels, meal patterns and activity behaviours such as sitting for long periods.

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The study, involved 28 overweight or obese adults aged 19–30 years who were habitual soft drink consumers. They participated in two separate experiments on different days drinking soft drink on one and water on the other both mid-morning and mid-afternoon during a 7-hour day of uninterrupted sitting.

Professor Kingwell says the combination of soft drink and prolonged sitting significantly elevated plasma glucose and plasma insulin, while reducing circulating triglycerides and fatty acids which indicates significant suppression of lipid metabolism, particularly in males.

She says the metabolic effects of a regular diet of soft drink combined with extended periods of sitting may contribute to the development of metabolic disease in young people who are overweight or obese, including predisposing men to an elevated risk of fatty liver disease.

“The acute metabolic effects outlined in this study are very worrying and suggest that young, overweight people who engage in this type of lifestyle are setting themselves on a path toward chronic cardiometabolic disease,” Professor Kingwell says. “This highlights significant health implications both for individuals and our healthcare system.”