Sugary Beverages Linked to Increased Genetic Risk of Obesity

If you’re concerned about your weight, and the growing rate of obesity in America, put down that sugary beverage!

A new study from researchers from Harvard School of Public Health found that greater consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) is linked with a greater genetic susceptibility to high body mass index (BMI) and increased risk of obesity. That means that environmental and genetic factors may act together to shape obesity risk.

The study appears September 21, 2012 in an advance online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Our study for the first time provides reproducible evidence from three prospective cohorts to show genetic and dietary factors—sugar-sweetened beverages—may mutually influence their effects on body weight and obesity risk. The findings may motivate further research on interactions between genomic variation and environmental factors regarding human health,” said Lu Qi, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at HSPH and senior author of the study.

That’s a lot of fancy scientific language that says suagry drinks act on your genetic factors and can increase the risk of putting on weight.

In the past three decades, consumption of SSBs has increased dramatically worldwide. Although widespread evidence supports a link between SSBs, obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes, there has been little research on whether environmental factors, such as drinking sugary beverages, influence genetic predisposition to obesity.  Now we know is in a fact.

“SSBs are one of the driving forces behind the obesity epidemic,” says Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at HSPH and a coauthor of this study. “The implication of our study is that the genetic effects of obesity can be offset by healthier food and beverage choices.”

So no more sugary drinks the grand-kids either please.

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