It’s not just beer that will give you that notoriously undesirable beer belly. Chances are, those designated drivers across the bar sipping on sugary soda are developing a nice cushion of stomach fat as well.

A photo posted by Kezia (@keziaeniang) on

According to a new study, soda and other sugar-filled drinks are likely the culprit for that undesired belly fat, called “visceral fat.” Surely this isn’t the first time you’re hearing about the bad health effects associated with drinking soda. But lead researcher Dr. Caroline S. Fox assures us these new findings are something we will definitely want to take note of. She explains,

“A lot of prior studies have looked at sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity. We looked at body fat distribution, in particular change over time…There is evidence linking sugar-sweetened beverages with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Our message to consumers is to follow the current dietary guidelines and to be mindful of how much sugar-sweetened beverages they drink.”

By surveying a group of about 1,000 people and their dietary habits over six years, researchers were to get a feel for how much sugar subjects were ingesting from sugary drinks (note: this does not include diet sodas, which are low in calories and sugar). According to Live Science, the subjects also underwent CT scans at the beginning and end of the study to compare how much visceral fat each person accumulated throughout the time period. By taking into account age, gender, BMI, and phyiscal activity of each subject, the study was able to conclude the following:

  • People that either never down sugary drinks or rarely do gained an average of 40 cubic inches of visceral fat over six years.
  • People that drink sugar-filled drinks at least once a week gained 43 cubic inches (707 cubic cm) of visceral fat, on average.
  • Those that drink sugary drinks on the daily gained an average of 52 cubic inches (852 cubic cm) of visceral fat. According to Reuters, that’s about 1.8 pounds of abdominal fat.

In summary, the study found that everyone gains more visceral fat over time. Although those that drink soda and other sugary drinks tend to gain more of the fat.

Visceral fat is the type of fat that is stored in the belly area of your body. It wraps itself around organs such as the intestines, liver, and pancreas. Why should we be weary of this fat? Because a person with high amounts of visceral fat is at a higher risk of developing a number of health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.

As research surrounding the issues of refined sugar continue to devleop, people have opted to switch from low-fat diets in favor of a low-sugar lifestyle. Australian filmmaker Damon Garneau took up a sugary diet from seemingly “healthy” foods in his documentary That Sugar Film. Just 18 days after he began ingesting 40 teaspoons a day of sugar (the daily average consumed by Australians), Garneau began to show signs of a fatty liver. So stop running away from science, and put down that Coke before it hits you in the gut, literally.


[via Live Science]