New Study Highlights The Risks Of Sugary Beverages

Reading this may make you think twice before stocking your fridge with soda.

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Scan the nutrition label of your teen's favorite food or beverage, and chances are you'll find a few words you don't recognize. After all, there are dozens of alternate names for sugar (agave nectar, barley malt, dextran...). Researchers recently focused on two of them—high fructose corn syrup and sucrose (or table sugar). In a new study from the American College of Cardiology, researchers found that consuming too many beverages sweetened with fructose and sucrose can lead to excessive weight gain, as well as a higher risk of type 2 diabetes or heart disease. Even just one of these beverages a day can increase the risk of the aforementioned side effects.

While this news isn't necessarily surprising, it's a good reminder as to why adults and teens alike should limit our soda intake. Sure, sweets are fine in moderation, but constantly consuming sugary beverages is proven to be detrimental to our health and well-being.

Frank Hu, MD, PhD, professor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and lead investigator of the paper, explains,

Since we rarely consume fructose in isolation, the major source of fructose in the diet comes from fructose-containing sugars, sucrose and high fructose corn syrup, in sugar-sweetened beverages. Our findings underscore the urgent need for public health strategies that reduce the consumption of these drinks.

These sweeteners are considered a low-cost alternative, which is why they're so prevalent. But cheaper doesn't always mean better, especially if it leads to long-term health problems down the road.

In case you need extra incentive to swap the soda pop in your fridge for water, note that sugary drinks can impair teens' memories and suppress their stress. Another downside? Sodas with caramel coloring contain a chemical that may be a carcinogen; in other words, it can increase the risk of cancer. Now that sounds unappetizing!

For more about the dangers of too many sweets, check out our "Sugar Shocker" and "Soda Shock" stories. We also have a brand-new resource guide, which includes go-to resources for teen nutrition info.