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Soft drinks may instigate heart disease in kids


April 10, 2012 - Sydney

Children who consume soft drinks regularly may be at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease, researchers including one of an Indian origin have warned.

In a study, precursory signs of cardiovascular disease could be seen in children as young as 12 who have a high intake of sugary drinks.

While narrowed blood vessels inside the eye are a known precursor to cardiovascular disease in adults, researchers from the Westmead Millennium Institute for medical research have for the first time looked at the link between carbohydrates, which includes sugars, and the retinal health of children.

Nearly 2000 12-year-olds had retinal images taken at the Centre for Vision Research at the University of Sydney. Narrowing of the retinal arteries was seen in those children with an intake of more than 274 grams of carbohydrate a day.

A major source of those carbohydrates was soft drinks or cordial, with high-risk children consuming one or more glasses a day, found the study.

The study leader, Bamini Gopinath, said the health of retinal blood vessels gave a "very accurate" indication of blood vessel health throughout the entire body.

"We need to carry out further studies, but it is definitely a warning to parents and children to cut down on carbohydrates and sugar," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Dr Gopinath as saying.

Doing so could play a role in reducing overall cardiovascular disease rates and deaths in the long-term, she said, with the condition causing more deaths each year in Australia than any other disease.

There was a slightly higher association between high carbohydrate diet and narrowed blood vessels in girls than in boys.

Even allowing for physical activity and screen viewing time, the results remained largely unchanged. The same children from the study would be followed throughout adolescence to see if the damage persisted beyond childhood.

The nutritionist Rosemary Stanton said the research added to evidence that consuming soft drinks was bad for overall health.

"There are no advantages of soft drinks," Stanton said.

The finding was published in this month's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

ANI

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