Sugary beverages linked to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

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Drinking beverages with sugar every day can increase the risk for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), according to a study published in the Journal of Hepatology.

The study included 2,634 participants from the National Heart Lunch and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Framingham Heart Study’s Offspring and Third Generation cohorts. Each participant completed a dietary questionnaire, including questions about sugar sweetened beverages. Each participant underwent a CT scan so the researchers could measure the amount of fat in their liver.

There was a higher prevalence of NAFLD among participants who reported drinking more than one sugar-sweetened beverage per day compared to those who did not drink these beverages. Even after adjusting for age, sex, body mass index (BMI), dietary factors, and lifestyle factors, the association between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and NAFLD remained.

"Our study adds to a growing body of research suggesting that sugar-sweetened beverages may be linked to NAFLD and other chronic diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular disease," said researcher Jiantao Ma, PhD, of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Medford, Mass.

Due to the cross-sectional nature of the study, the researchers cannot establish causality. They suggest that long-term prospective studies be undertaken to further explore the potential role of sugar-sweetened beverages in the development of NAFLD.

Drinking sugary drinks was linked to NAFLD.
Drinking sugary drinks was linked to NAFLD.

A daily sugar-sweetened beverage habit may increase the risk for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), researchers from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HRNCA) at Tufts University report today in the Journal of Hepatology.

The researchers analyzed 2,634 self-reported dietary questionnaires from mostly Caucasian middle-aged men and women enrolled in the National Heart Lunch and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Framingham Heart Study's Offspring and Third Generation cohorts. The sugar-sweetened beverages on the questionnaires included caffeinated- and caffeine-free colas, other carbonated beverages with sugar, fruit punches, lemonade or other non-carbonated fruit drinks. The participants underwent a computed tomography (CT) scan to measure the amount of fat in the liver and the authors of the current study used a previously defined cut-point to identify NAFLD. They saw a higher prevalence of NAFLD among people who reported drinking more than one sugar-sweetened beverage per day compared to people who said they drank no sugar-sweetened beverages.

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