HealthDay News — Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with greater accumulation of visceral adipose tissue, according to research published online January 11 in Circulation.

The study results are based on 1003 middle-aged adults taking part in a larger study on cardiovascular health. The researchers used computed tomography scans to measure each participant’s levels of visceral fat, at the study’s start and again six years later. At the outset, 13% of the study group said they drank at least one sugar-sweetened beverage every day.

On average, those men and women showed the greatest increase in visceral fat over the next 6 years. Compared with people who never consumed SSBs, daily consumers accumulated about 27% more visceral fat, the investigators found. The researchers found no connection between diet soda intake and visceral fat accumulation.

Lead researcher Jiantao Ma, PhD, of the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Framingham Heart Study and Population Sciences Branch, told HealthDay that his team accounted for other factors, such as people’s age, exercise habits, body weight, and daily calorie intake, but more research is needed to determine direct cause and effect.

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