Harvard Heart Letter

Sugary drinks seem to raise blood pressure

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Drinking as little as one sugar-sweetened beverage a day is linked to a slightly greater risk of high blood pressure, a new analysis suggests.

Researchers pooled findings from six studies that included a total of more than 240,000 people. They found a 12% higher risk of high blood pressure among people who drank one or more sugary drinks daily compared with those who drank none. Serving sizes of the beverages varied from 7 to 12 ounces among the different studies.

These drinks, which include sodas, fruit punch, lemonade, and many sports or energy drinks, are the main source of added sugar in Americans' diets. Sugary drinks add calories but don't fill you up, and people who drink them may not compensate for those extra calories by eating less food. That leads to weight gain, which can raise blood pressure. Plus, people who drink sugar-sweetened beverages also tend to eat fewer healthy foods and exercise less—another possible explanation for the findings. The study was published in the October 2015 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.