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Sugar has a direct effect on heart disease risk and blood pressure: Meta-analysis

Sugar has a direct effect on risk factors for heart disease, and is likely to impact on blood pressure, independent of weight gain, according to new analysis of 39 clinical trials.

An international review and meta-analysis of all English language studies comparing the effects of higher versus lower added sugar consumption on blood pressure and lipids has found that dietary sugars have significant influence on blood pressure and serum lipids that is independent of effects of sugars on body weight.

Led by Dr Lisa Te Morenga and Professor Jim Mann at New Zealand’s University of Otago, the team analysed data from clinical trials that compared sugar and non-sugar carbohydrate consumption for their effects on blood lipids and blood pressure after noting that, while sugars have been suggested as a cause of obesity, chronic diseases, and a range of cardiometabolic risk factors, “there is no convincing evidence of a causal relation between sugars and risk factors other than body weight.”

“Our analysis confirmed that sugars contribute to cardiovascular risk, independent of the effect of sugars on body weight,” said Te Morenga.

“Although the effects of sugars on blood pressure and lipids are relatively modest, our findings support public health recommendations to reduce added sugar in our diets as one of the measures which might be expected to reduce the global burden of cardiovascular diseases.”

“Our work provides further evidence to support these recommendations which have been disputed by the food industry,” she commented – adding that while there is still a need for further longer term well-powered studies looking at the effects of sugars on various health outcomes, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the food industry to continue to claim that liberal sugar consumption is risk free.”…..

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Journal reference:

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.3945/​ajcn.113.081521
“Dietary sugars and cardiometabolic risk: systematic review and meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials of the effects on blood pressure and lipids”
Authors: Lisa A Te Morenga, Alex J Howatson, Rhiannon M Jones, Jim Mann

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