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Five Studies on the Links Between Sugar and Heart Disease

The scientific evidence for whether eating too much sugar causes Type 2 diabetes and other diseases.
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Editor's Note: This piece originally appeared in our January/February 2016 print issue as a sidebar to "The Former Dentist Uncovering Sugar's Rotten Secrets."

(Photo: Pacific Standard)

(Photo: Pacific Standard)

Here are the five studies you need to read to understand the scientific evidence for whether eating too much sugar causes obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. The evidence isn’t bulletproof, but some public-health researchers argue it’s enough to tell people to cut back on soda and other sweet drinks.

1. "The findings of this longitudinal study ... suggest a linear dose-response relationship between sugars and [cavities], with amount of intake being more important than frequency of ingestion."

—"The Shape of the Dose-Response Relationship Between Sugars and Caries in Adults," E. Bernabe, et al., Journal of Dental Research, 2015.

2. "We observed a significant relationship between added sugar consumption and increase risk for CVD mortality."

—"Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality Among U.S. Adults," Quanhe Yang, et al., JAMA Internal Medicine, 2014.

3. "[I]ntake of free sugars or sugar sweetened beverages is a determinant of body weight.... [E]xchange of sugars with other carbohydrates was not associated with weight change."

—"Dietary Sugars and Body Weight: Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses of Randomized Controlled Trials and Cohort Studies,” L. Morenga Te, et al., BMJ, 2013.

4. "Temporal patterns ... have shown a close parallel between the rise in added sugar intake and the global obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D) epidemics."

—"Sweeteners and Risk of Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes: The Role of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages,” V. S. Malik and F. B. Hu, Current Diabetes Reports, 2012.

5. "While recognizing that the evidence of harm on health against [sugar- sweetened beverages] is strong, we should avoid the trap of waiting for absolute proof before allowing public health action to be taken."

—"Resolved: There Is Sufficient Scientific Evidence That Decreasing Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption Will Reduce the Prevalence of Obesity and Obesity-Related Diseases," F.B. Hu, Obesity Reviews, 2013.


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