• Daily sugary beverages can lead to an increase of visceral fat. (SBS Food)Source: SBS Food
People who drink soft drink daily tend to gain more fat around their middle.
Caitlin Chang

12 Jan 2016 - 12:16 PM  UPDATED 12 Jan 2016 - 2:13 PM

If you haven’t ditched sweetened soft drinks in 2016, here’s the latest compelling reason why you should.

New research from the US has found that drinking sugary beverages like soda daily may lead to more abdominal fat over time.

For the study, researchers examined 1000 participants who answered food questions about how often they consumed sugary beverages. While one third never consumed sugar-sweetened drinks, 20 per cent did so occasionally, 35 per cent frequently and 13 per cent daily.

“A lot of prior studies have looked at sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity,” said lead study author Dr Caroline Fox. “We looked at body fat distribution, in particular change over time.”

The results published in the journal Circulation revealed that while all participants gained visceral fat over the six-year study period, those who drank sweetened drinks daily gained more. For non-drinkers, visceral fat levels increased by 658 cubic centimetres, and 853 cubic centimetres for daily soft drink consumers.

Increased abdominal fat has been shown to increase the risk of metabolic illnesses including type-2 diabetes, and also the risk of heart disease. Visceral fat around the middle is particularly dangerous as it wraps around internal organs including  the liver and pancreas, affecting the function of hormones including insulin. It’s also thought that the added sugar contributes to insulin resistance, a precursor for type-2 diabetes.

“There is evidence linking sugar-sweetened beverages with cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes,” Fox said in a statement. “Our message to consumers is to follow the current dietary guidelines and to be mindful of how much sugar-sweetened beverages they drink. To policy makers, this study adds another piece of evidence to the growing body of research suggesting sugar-sweetened beverages may be harmful to our health.”

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