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Regular sugar-sweetened beverage consumption is associated with higher risk of fatty liver disease

17 June 2015

A study published by US researchers in the Journal of Hepatology has shown that regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) may be associated with increased risk of fatty liver disease and significantly impacts overweight people. 

The study participants were gathered from the Third Generation (Gen3) cohort and Framingham Heart study’s offspring cohort. The Third Generation (Gen3) cohort began in 2002 studying 4095 participants and the offspring cohort started in 1971 and enrolled 4095 adults. Participants were evaluated after every 3-4 years. Further to MDCT (multidetector computed tomography), exclusions were applied including body weight <160 kg, men 35 years or over, and non-pregnant women >40 years of age, those with unreliable dietary data as well as high alcohol consumers. The final sample size was 2634, a total of 1075 participants from Offspring cohort and 1559 from the Gen3 cohort. 

The participants underwent an abdominal scan 8 slice MDCT scan from 2002 to 2005 and the liver fat content was estimated by methodology given in the paper. A higher volume of liver fat was indicated by a lower value of the derived “liver to phantom ratio” (LPR) . SSB and diet soda intakes were assessed using Harvard semi-quantitative FFQ (Food Frequency Questionnaire). The SSB FFQ assessment included 1) caffeinated cola with sugar, 2) caffeine free from sugar, 3) other carbonated drinks and 4) fruit punches, lemonade and other carbonated beverages. Diet soda was captured using 3 FFQ items 1) lower calorie soda, low calorie, caffeine free soda and other carbonated drinks. The participants were characterized according to the frequency of SSB and diet soda consumption. Standard protocols were used in follow up in physical and medical examinations over 7 years. 

The results showed that daily SSB consumers were more likely to be male, consume less alcohol, younger, smokers and have an overall less healthy diet and suffer from diabetes and hypertension. A significant relationship was observed between SSB consumption and BMI status and marginally associated with LPR in normal weight participants. In overweight people SSB intake was increasingly associated with LPR. However, although there was a positive association was observed between diet soda and fatty liver disease and LPR, after adjustment for BMI the results were no longer significant.

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