July 9 (UPI) — Consuming sugar-sweetened beverages increases a person’s risk for metabolic syndrome by up to 20 percent, according to an analysis published Thursday by JAMA Network Open.
The review of data from 13 previous studies warns against intake of large amounts of fructose, or fruit sugar, which is found in many sodas and fruit drinks, researchers at the University of Toronto, University of Saskatchewan and McMaster University reported.
However, not all sources of fructose are as harmful as others, they said. Consumption of yogurt and fresh fruit, which also contain fructose — a naturally occurring ingredient in the latter — doesn’t carry the same risk for metabolic syndrome.
“If we base all of our decisions in the grocery aisle on sugar content, we may be missing out on the nutritional benefits of some foods,” study co-author Dr. John L Sievenpiper, told UPI.
“Fructose in and of itself isn’t beneficial, but it may be there as ‘baggage’ in some foods to help more nutritious ingredients, like dietary fiber, go down” — or taste better, said Sievenpiper, an associate professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions — including high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, excess body fat, and increased cholesterol and triglyceride levels — that occur together, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Collectively, these conditions increase a person’s risk for Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, Sievenpiper said.
For this study, he and his colleagues reviewed data from studies that had enrolled nearly 50,000 participants, more than 14,000 of whom had been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.
Consumption of beverages collectively containing 12 ounces or more of fructose increased a person’s risk for metabolic syndrome by at least 14 percent, the researchers found.
Consumption of fresh fruit and yogurt that contained the ingredient did not raise the risk for a metabolic syndrome diagnosis, the researches said.
“Really, our findings suggest that we should be taking a look at whole foods, not just at individual ingredients, as we develop diet and nutritional guidelines,” Sievenpiper said.
“Metabolic syndrome is really an important warning sign for more serious health conditions, and the more we can use it as an opportunity to get people to make positive lifestyle changes — including a healthy diet — the better,” he said.