Higher intake of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) seems to amplify the risk of obesity, according to a finding. "The
findings may motivate further research on interactions between genomic
variation and environmental factors regarding human health," said Lu Qi,
assistant professor of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health
(HSPH) and senior study author.
Although widespread evidence
supports a link between SSBs (whose consumption has increased
dramatically worldwide), obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes,
there has been little research on whether environmental factors, such as
drinking sugary beverages, influence genetic predisposition to obesity,
the New England Journal of Medicine reported.
The researchers analyzed data from 6,934 women from Nurses' Health Study, 4,423 men from Health Professionals Follow-up Study and 21,740 women from Women's Genome Health Study, all of European ancestry, according to a Harvard statement.
The results showed that the genetic effects on BMI (height to weight ration) and obesity risk among those who drank one or more SSBs per day were about twice as large as those who consumed less than one serving per month.
The findings suggest that regular consumption of sugary beverages may amplify the genetic risk of obesity.
"SSBs are one of the driving forces behind the obesity epidemic," said Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at HSPH and study co-author.
"The implication of our study is that the genetic effects of obesity can be offset by healthier food and beverage choices."