The risk of developing heart failure for men who drink two or more sugary drinks a day could rise by almost a quarter according to a new study.

Researchers in Sweden looked at more than 42,000 Swedish men aged 45 to 79 and based their results on their estimated daily or weekly intake of sweetened drinks from a food frequency questionnaire completed in 1997.

The report, recently published in Heart journal, revealed that in follow-up trials over nearly 12 years, men who reported drinking two or more glasses (two 200ml portions) of sweetened beverages a day were 23% more likely to experience heart failure compared to individuals who did not consume any sweetened drinks.

Cutting down on sugary drinks is recommended by healthcare professionals as part of a balanced diet

Drinking too many sugary drinks can lead to putting on weight and can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes – two of the main contributing factors in developing heart failure.

Researchers said: “[The] study findings suggest that sweetened beverage consumption could contribute to heart failure development. These findings could have implications for heart failure prevention strategies. Further prospective studies examining this relationship are therefore necessitated. Moreover, possible biological mechanisms linking sweetened beverage consumption with heart failure risk need to be studied carefully.”

They added that more than 23 million people are affected by heart diseases worldwide, with more cases being diagnosed among the elderly and men. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that more than 80% of premature heart disease and stroke cases could be prevented. According to their research predictions, deaths from heart diseases in the UK could be halved by small changes in the risk factors (such as cholesterol) that are linked with these conditions.

The research follows the recent publication of a Government report that recommended sugar should make up no more than 5% of your daily energy intake – which is around 30g of sugar - less than a single can of Coca-Cola, which contains 39g. However, it is estimated that most people consume far more than that.

An NHS Behind the Headlines report on the study concluded: “It is no secret that a healthy diet including lots of vegetables, whole fruits and food low in salt, along with an active physical lifestyle, help to prevent a number of ailments. Losing weight (if you are overweight), quitting smoking, lowering cholesterol and reducing alcohol intake also have a positive impact on overall health and in reducing the risk of heart failure.”

Most nutritionists would recommend that sugary drinks are consumed as an occasional treat and not as a daily dietary staple.

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