A team of researchers discovered a link between regular consumption of sugar-containing drinks and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Study lead author Jiantao Ma, Ph.D. of Tufts University’s Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging explained the significance of their research. “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,” Ma said in a news release.
The research was conducted through a survey of more than 2,600 enrolees of the Offspring and Third Generation cohort study of the National Heart Lunch and Blood Institute Framingham Heart Study, asking them about their consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, which include colas and fruit-based drinks. The respondents were checked for the amount of liver fat via CT scan.
Results showed a higher risk of developing the liver disease when drinking more than one sweet drink a day. However, there was no link found between NAFLD and consumption of diet sodas.
The researchers have not determined a cause-and-effect relationship, though. “The cross-sectional nature of this study prevents us from establishing causality. Future prospective studies are needed to account for the changes in beverage consumption over time as soda consumers may switch to diet soda and these changes may be related to weight status,” said study senior author Nicola McKeown, Ph.D.