Is drinking sugary drinks dangerous?

February 21, 2024 | 06:10 pm PT
Does drinking a lot of sugary drinks increase the risk of cardiovascular disease? How can I consume these beverages safely? (Ngoc Ly, Hanoi)


Common sweetened beverages include soda, juices, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened coffee, and sweetened tea, among others. An average adult consumes about 145 calories from these beverages per day.

Carbonated sugary beverages contain high amounts of sugar, artificial coloring, flavoring, and carbonation, with almost no vitamins, minerals, or nutrients.

Drinking sugary beverages can increase the level of sugar and insulin in our blood, which leads to increased feelings of hunger and a higher risk of weight gain and obesity. Moreover, high blood sugar levels can lead to diabetes, accompanied by disruptions in lipid metabolism that increase bad cholesterol (LDL-c) and the formation of plaque in the arteries. This can damage and narrow the blood vessels.

Soft drink servedfrom a bottle to a glass. Illustration photo by Freepik

Soft drink servedfrom a bottle to a glass. Illustration photo by Freepik

A study published in the American Heart Association’s journal "Circulation," which analyzed data from over 118,000 healthcare professionals over more than three decades, showed that people who consumed higher amounts of sugary beverages had a higher risk of death from all causes, especially from cardiovascular disease.

Compared to those who rarely consumed sugary beverages, people who consumed two or more servings of sugary drinks per day had a risk of death from heart disease or stroke that was approximately one-third higher.

The amount of sugar intake is recommended to be less than 10% of the total daily calorie intake. For someone consuming 2,000 calories per day, the recommended maximum additional sugar intake would be 200 calories. For reference, a typical can of soda contains 150 calories, which is equivalent to 75% of the daily sugar allowance for an individual.

Drinking excessive amounts of sugary beverages, combined with an unbalanced diet and disrupted daily routines, can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. For children, regular consumption of sugary drinks may lead to a decreased appetite and them skipping main meals.

It is advised to limit the consumption of sugary beverages or drinks that contain a high amount of added sugar and to monitor the intake of these beverages in children. It is recommended to prioritize drinking water, unsweetened fruit juices, milk, oat-based drinks, soy milk, nut milk, and unsweetened cocoa or tea.

Dr. Nguyen Thi Ngoc

Tam Anh General Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City

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