Too much added sugar can pile on dangerous fat around your heart and in your abdomen, a new study finds.
“When we consume too much sugar, the excess is converted to fat and stored,” said researcher So Yun Yi, a Ph.D. student at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health.
“This fat tissue located around the heart and in the abdomen releases chemicals into the body which can be harmful to health,” Yi said. “Our results support limiting added sugar intake.”
For the study, the researchers looked at long-term consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (such as soft drinks) and foods with added sugar (for example, processed foods) and their association with fat stores around the heart and other organs.
The data was obtained from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study, which includes more than 3,000 healthy young American adults.
The findings showed that consuming higher amounts of sugar-sweetened beverages and added sugar over a 20-year period was tied to more fat stored around organs.
The report was published June 29 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
According to researcher Dr. Lyn Steffen, the new findings “provide more evidence that consuming too much added sugar and sugary drinks is related to a higher amount of fat tissue.” Steffen is an associate professor in the university’s division of epidemiology and community health.
“And we know that fat deposits are connected with higher risks of heart disease and diabetes,” she said in a news release from the European Society of Cardiology.
“Have water instead of sugary drinks and choose healthier snacks over foods rich in added sugar like cakes,” Steffen suggested. “Read food labels to check the amount of added sugar in what you are buying. Look for ingredients like syrups, glucose, fructose, sucrose and maltose. Being more aware of hidden sugar will help you cut back.”
Steffen also said that “on top of our individual efforts, governments, food manufacturers, restaurants, schools and workplaces have a role to play in increasing consumer awareness of the sugar content in foods and beverages and offering healthier alternatives.”