In a study published on the journal Circulation by the American Heart Association and sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, researchers found that those who consume sodas and other beverages high in sugar content gained 27 percent more visceral fat than those who drank lesser of it.
Visceral fat is a kind of body fat that is found in the abdominal area, deep within the organs, including the pancreas, liver and intestines, noted Time on Monday. This type of fat is metabolically active, capable of releasing compounds that hinder the body's ability to break down sugar from the food we eat as source of energy, and also increases cholesterol production in the liver.
Those with higher visceral fat are at risk of developing diabetes and heart diseases.
Lead author of the study Dr. Caroline Fox of Tufts University and Harvard Medical School in Boston, along with her team of experts, evaluated the visceral fats of 1,000 volunteers from ages 19 to 72 through computed tomography (CT) scan, and were asked to fill out food diaries.
After six years, these volunteers were again subjected to undergo a CT scan for another evaluation.
The researchers found that those who consumed sodas or sweet beverages gained an average of 852 cubic centimeters of visceral fat than those who consumed none who gained an average of 658 cubic centimeters more over the six years.
"We observed that individuals who consumed at least one serving of sugar-sweetened beverages per day had a 27 percent greater increase in visceral adipose tissue volume over six years compared to non-consumers," the researchers noted.
Today reported on Tuesday that the federal government encouraged people to only get 10 percent or less of their calories from sugar.
"Our message to consumers is to follow the current dietary guidelines and to be mindful of how much sugar-sweetened beverages they drink," said Fox. "To policy makers, this study adds another piece of evidence to the growing body of research suggesting sugar-sweetened beverages may be harmful to our health."