Heavy consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages linked to higher IBD risk


The authors report study funding from the National Natural Science Foundation and Key Project of Research and Development Plan of Hunan Province.

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Excessive intake of sugar-sweetened beverages may increase the risk for inflammatory bowel disease, according to research published in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

“Accumulating evidence has linked its rising incidence to dietary changes, including higher intake of fat, sugar, food additives and lower fiber intake. As one of the major sources of free sugar, beverages have been related to inflammation-related health outcomes but received less attention in the field of IBD,” Tian Fu, of the department of gastroenterology at The Third Xiangya Hospital of Central South University in China, and colleagues wrote. “In vitro and in vivo research linked beverages to IBD through dysbiosis of gut microbiota and enhanced colitis susceptibility, but population-based evidence was inconclusive.”

 Participants who consumed more than one unit of sugar-sweetened beverages per day had a higher risk for: A – Crohn’s disease; HR = 2.05 B – Ulcerative colitis; HR = 1.31

Seeking to assess the association of sugar-sweetened beverages, artificially sweetened beverages and natural juices with the risk for IBD, Fu and colleagues evaluated 121,490 participants (mean age, 56.2 years; 96.9% white) without IBD from the UK Biobank. Researchers measured dietary beverage intake using a web-based, 24-hour diet recall questionnaire. Of eligible participants, 66.3% did not consume any sugar-sweetened beverages and those who consumed more than one unit (defined as 250 mL) per day likely had a higher BMI, intake of total energy and sugar.

During a mean follow-up of 10.2 years, researchers reported 510 cases of incident IBD (41/100,000 person-years), which included 143 cases of Crohn’s disease (12/100,000 person-years) and 367 cases of ulcerative colitis (30/100,000 person-years).

Compared with participants who did not consume sugar-sweetened beverages, participants who consumed more than one unit per day had a higher risk for IBD (HR = 1.51; 95% CI, 1.11-2.05), a trend that was more significant for CD (HR = 2.05; 95% CI, 1.22-3.46) than UC (HR = 1.31; 95% CI, 0.89-1.92). Conversely, artificially sweetened beverages (HR = 0.85; 95% CI, 0.56-1.28) or natural juices (HR = 1.08; 95% CI, 0.76-1.53) did not associate with the risk for IBD.

“Our study suggested an association between excessive intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, rather than artificially sweetened beverages or natural juices, and IBD risk, while the trend was non-significant,” Fu and colleagues concluded. “Our findings, if proven causal, suggested reduced consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages as a strategy for prevention of IBD, especially CD, but further studies are needed to confirm these findings and explore the underlying mechanism before public health policy could be carried out.”

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