The US Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) scientists have analysed 22 years of National Health Surveys amongst 30,000 adults. In previous studies sugar consumption has been linked to illnesses such as diabetes and non-fatal heart problems. However in this study, sugar consumption has been directly linked to heart problems and an increased risk of death.
If a person consumes 2000 calories a day, just consuming two cans of fizzy soft drinks makes an enormous difference. The researchers found that it doesn’t take too much sugar to greatly increase risks. And being in the highest consumption category increases you risks of dying prematurely by three-fold.
‘Too much sugar does not just make us fat; it can also make us sick’, said Laute Schmidt, health policy expert at UCLA, San Francisco.
The study authors divided everybody into 5 categories. The lowest group had sugar intake of less than 10% of total calories; the highest was at least 25% of total calories.
As sugar intake rises, risk rises steeply. For the record, one spoonful of sugar has 16 calories; a can of soft drink about 140 calories. A scoop of ice cream is about 80 calories.
The exact reasons are unclear although some experts believe the process is simple. The more sugar in the blood, the more insulin produced. The more insulin, the more chronic inflammation. As Dr Chauncey Crandall of the Palm Beach Cardiology Center says, ‘Chronic inflammation causes arteries to inflame and that is why fat sticks to them. So the problem isn’t fat per se but the predisposition of inflammation’.