Study links sugary drinks to high blood pressure

( — Drinking too many sugary drinks, such as sugar-sweetened fizzy drinks or fruit juices, may raise blood pressure according to a new study published this week.

We already know that smoking, being overweight or obese, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, being inactive or having too much salt in your diet can put you at risk of developing high blood pressure. But this new study puts the spotlight on sugary drinks as another possible risk factor.

The study looked at over 2,500 people aged 40 to 59 in the UK and the USA. The researchers took each person’s blood pressure at the beginning of the study (twice within 24 hours), then three weeks later at the end of the study (again, twice within 24 hours). Additionally, each person was asked to recall their diet during the previous 24 hours at each visit and answer a questionnaire about their lifestyle. Urine samples were also taken at each visit.

The researchers were specifically interested in the effect that sugar-sweetened drinks and sugar-free drinks (for example diet drinks flavoured with artificial sweeteners) in each person’s diet had on their blood pressure.

The results were analysed taking into account other blood pressure risk factors, such as body mass index (BMI), age and how much exercise each person did. The study found that for every extra sugar-sweetened drink (355ml) consumed per day, systolic blood pressure increased by 1.6mmHg and diastolic blood pressure increased by 0.8mmHg. Blood pressure readings are measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).

Conversely, sugar-free drinks were found to have no effect on blood pressure, even though the people who consumed them had a higher average BMI and did less physical activity than those who had sugar-sweetened drinks.


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