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Sugary drinks expand women's waists
November 14th, 2011
07:53 AM ET

Sugary drinks expand women's waists

Doctors have warned people for years that too many sodas or sugary drinks can cause weight gain. But now a new study finds two or more sugary beverages a day can expand a woman's waistline, even if she doesn't  gain weight. And that can be dangerous to a woman's health.

Studies show weight carried around the middle can increase a person's risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Researchers looked at five years of data on more than 4,000 people, middle-aged and older, and compared those who drank two or more sugar-sweetened beverages a day with those who drank one or less. They assessed risk factors in follow-up exams, monitoring the participants' weight gain, increase in waist size, their HDL (good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, sugar levels, triglycerides and their possible development of diabetes.

They found the women who had two or more beverages had increasing waist sizes, and were nearly four times as likely to develop high triglycerides, or fats in the blood, than those who drank one or less sweetened drinks a day.

"Women who drank more than two sugar-sweetened drinks a day had increasing waist sizes, but weren't necessarily gaining weight," said Christina Shay, lead author of the study and assistant professor at the University Of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City. "These women also developed high triglycerides and women with normal blood glucose levels more frequently went from having a low risk to a high risk of developing diabetes over time."

The researchers did not see the same results among the men in the study.

"Most people assume that individuals who consume a lot of sugar-sweetened drinks have an increase in obesity, which in turn, increases their risk for heart disease and diabetes," said Shay, "Although this does occur, this study showed that risk factors for heart disease and stroke developed even when the women didn't gain weight."

Investigators said women may have a higher risk of developing heart disease from sugary drinks because they require fewer calories than men, so excess calories build up and cause health issues.

The research was presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2011.

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Filed under: Heart • Nutrition • Obesity

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