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Study Finds Excess Sugar May Double Heart Disease Risk

Last updated Sept. 7, 2015

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

The added sugar Americans consume as part of their daily diet can more than double the risk of death from heart disease. Schmidt says that added sugar could be increasing heart attack risk by disrupting a person's hormone system, throwing their metabolism out of whack.


A new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that regardless of other health problems, the added sugar Americans consume as part of their daily diet can more than double the risk of death from heart disease.

The average American diet contains enough added sugar to increase the risk of heart-related death by nearly 20 percent, the researchers said. Also, the risk of death from heart disease is more than doubled for the 10 percent of Americans who receive a quarter of their daily calories from sugar that's been added to food, said CDC researcher and study lead author Quanhe Yang, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This study is the first link on a national level the amount of sugar American Adults eat to their risk of death from heart disease after taking into account weight, age, health, exercise, and diet.

“Too much sugar can make you fat; it can also make you sick, sick from diseases like cardiovascular disease, which is the number one killer in America,” said Laura Schmidt, a school of medicine professor at the University of California at San Francisco, in a telephone interview. “Small amounts of sugar are fine. It’s consuming massive amounts of sugar that’s a growing problem in America.”

Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the researchers looked at data from the several National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, which provides nationally representative information on the consumption of added sugar by U.S. adults. They found that added sugar made up an average of 14.9 percent of daily calories in the American diet from 2005 to 2010, down from 15.7 percent from 1988 to 1994 and 16.8 percent from 1999 to 2004.

Schmidt says that added sugar could be increasing heart attack risk by disrupting a person's hormone system, throwing their metabolism out of whack. “We are in the midst of a paradigm shift in research on the health effects of sugar, one fueled by extremely high rates of added sugar overconsumption in the American public,” Schmidt said in an editorial accompanying the study.

Additional Resources:

http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1819573

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Feb. 6, 2014
Last updated: Sept. 7, 2015