Gavin Partington, director general at the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA), said that the authors of the report – carried out by the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm – “accept no definitive conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect”.
The study of 42,000 men in Sweden found that two 200ml servings – equivalent to one can of drink per day – could increase the risk of heart failure by 23%.
The men, who were all aged 45 to 79 at the beginning of the study, were tracked over an average period of 12 years.
Within that period, there were 3,604 new cases of heart failure diagnosed, and 509 people died of the condition.
However, while the study found that “sweetened beverage [SB] consumption could contribute to heart failure development” it also suggested that “further research is needed to better ascertain the association between SB and different sub-types of HF [heart failure], taking into account its aetiology [set of causes] and the disease severity”.
Furthermore, it claimed that “the long-term impact of SB in younger populations remains to be assessed, since consumption usually decreases as persons get older”.
Is there a link?
“Men who consumed at least two servings per day of sweetened beverages had a 23% higher risk of heart failure.”
Karolinska Institutet study
“Key risk factors for heart failure include high blood pressure, which is a consequence of an overall unhealthy diet and lack of exercise.”
Gavin Partington, BSDA
Researchers also did not distinguish between drinks sweetened with sugar and those sweetened with artificial sweeteners.
Partington said the key risk factor for heart failure remained high blood pressure, “which is a consequence of an overall unhealthy diet and lack of exercise”.
He explained: “The persistent focus on a single ingredient or product is neither helpful to consumers nor based on evidence of the importance of a balanced diet overall.”
Partington also believed UK soft drinks manufacturers were leading the way in cutting calories and reducing the sugar in their products.
“Through new product development, reformulation and increased availability of smaller pack sizes the soft drinks sector has cut calories by 7.5% in just three years. The majority of soft drinks now sold in the UK are low and no calorie, including nearly half of all carbonated drinks.”
According to government data published in 2014, soft drinks account for 3% of calories in the average UK diet.
Calories in soft drinks have been cut by 7.5% since 2012 (Kantar Worldpanel, May 2015).