Long-term sugar intake increases ectopic fat depots
Increased intake of added sugar and sugar-sweetened beverages was linked to greater visceral and pericardial adipose tissue volumes, researchers found.
Researchers for the study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology also found this association with subcutaneous adipose tissue volume, although it was no longer significant after adjusting for diabetes and BMI.
“Our findings provide more evidence that consuming too much added sugar and sugary drinks is related to a higher amount of fat tissue, and we know that fat deposits are connected with higher risks of heart disease and diabetes,” Lyn Steffen, PhD, MPH, associate professor in the division of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis, said in a press release.
So-Yun Yi, PhD student at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, and colleagues analyzed data from 3,070 participants from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study aged 18 to 30 years who attended an examination at year 25. At this examination, a CT scan was performed of the chest and abdomen, and the information was used to calculate visceral adipose tissue, pericardial adipose tissue and subcutaneous adipose tissue volumes.
Participants reported details on food and beverages including fruits and vegetables, juice, sugar-sweetened beverages, legumes, grains and others.
Intake of added sugars was linked to higher visceral adipose tissue (P for trend < .001), pericardial adipose tissue (P for trend = .001) and subcutaneous adipose tissue volumes (P for trend = .04). Compared with the first quintile for added sugar intake, the fifth quintile had 18.5 mL higher visceral adipose tissue volume, 6.5 mL higher pericardial adipose tissue volume and 22 mL higher subcutaneous adipose tissue volume.
Adjusting for diabetes and BMI slightly attenuated the link between added sugar and both pericardial adipose tissue (P for trend = .02) and visceral adipose tissue volumes (P for trend = .004). Added sugar intake was no longer linked to subcutaneous adipose tissue volume in this model (P for trend = .77).
Similarly, sugar-sweetened beverage intake was also associated with pericardial adipose tissue and visceral adipose tissue volumes (P for trend for both < .001). This beverage intake was slightly associated with higher volume of subcutaneous adipose tissue volume (P for trend = .07), although it was no longer significant after adjusting for BMI and diabetes (P for trend = .68).
“Our study findings support ongoing global public health efforts to lower added sugar intake such as the recommendations from the World Health Organization and the 2015 dietary guidelines for Americans to limit added sugar and the inclusion of added sugar on the new Nutrition Facts panel,” Yi and colleagues wrote.