Physical activity not enough to balance risk of heart disease from sugary drinks, study finds


New Delhi: The benefits of being physically active do not outweigh the risks of getting a heart-related disease associated with drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, new research has found.

Researchers said they aimed to test the hypothesis behind marketing strategies that often show physically active people drinking these beverages, possibly suggesting that consuming sugary drinks are not harmful provided people remain active.

Following around 1 lakh adults over a period of 30 years, the researchers led by Harvard School of Public Health, US, found that the WHO-recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise, aimed to protect against cardiovascular disease, were not enough to counter the adverse effects of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Their data showed the participants consuming these drinks more than twice a week to have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, regardless of physical activity levels.

“Physical activity reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with sugar-sweetened beverages by half, but it does not fully eliminate it,” said Jean-Philippe Drouin-Chartier, professor at Faculty of Pharmacy, Université Laval, Canada, and co-author of the study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Even as the frequency of consumption studied – twice a week – is relatively low, the researchers said, it is still “significantly” associated with cardiovascular disease risk, with the risk being even higher with daily consumption.

“Our findings provide further support for public health recommendations and policies to limit people’s intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, as well as to encourage people to meet and maintain adequate physical activity levels,” said lead author Lorena Pacheco, a research scientist in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard.

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