CCC Statement in Response to: “Sweetened Beverages, Genetic Susceptibility, and Incident ‎Atrial Fibrillation: A Prospective Cohort Study”‎ 

A new observational study was published in Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology in which the authors sought to explore potential links between sweetened beverage consumption and risk of atrial fibrillation and other irregular heart rhythms. The authors utilized a UK-based cohort and looked at sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB), artificially sweetened beverage (ASB), and pure fruit juice (PJ) consumption to determine possible associations.

The researchers concluded consumption of greater than two liters of SSB and ASB per week was associated with an increased risk of atrial fibrillation – with ASB consumption resulting in a 20% greater risk and SSB consumption resulting in a 10% greater risk. However, they also noted, “Our study’s findings cannot definitively conclude that one beverage poses more health risk than another due to the complexity of our diets and because some people may drink more than one type of beverage.”

In response to this new observational study, the Calorie Control Council has issued the following statement:

“The results of this study should be taken with extreme caution due to its observational design, which inhibits the ability to establish causation. Further, self-reported data is inherently subject to recall and misreporting biases. Also of note, the majority of the subjects‎ in the analysis had comorbidities including smoking, high BMI, and type 2 diabetes, all of which are established risk factors for atrial fibrillation. As atrial fibrillation is widely noted as a multifactorial condition, one specific nutritional factor, such as beverage intake, is not likely to significantly increase an individual’s absolute risk. Such a suggestion is egregious and recommendations to reduce intake does a disservice to those who rely on low- and no-calorie sweeteners as a tool to manage and/or improve their health.”

The world’s leading health agencies regard low- and no-calorie sweeteners as an excellent tool to combat the issue of obesity and associated health issues. These ingredients help to reduce sugar and caloric intake which, when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle, are key in weight management.  

What do these agencies says about low- and non-caloric sweeteners? Find out here.

Additional Responses to the Study:

“As the authors of this study themselves admit, this is observational research which, firstly, cannot prove cause, and which, secondly, involves data that could be subject to memory errors or bias from the participants. All soft drinks, whatever their ingredients, are safe to consume as part of a balanced diet, not least fruit juice, a 150ml portion of which counts as one of your 5 A Day. Just under 70% of soft drinks sold in the UK in 2022 were low- or no-sugar according to figures from Global Data, and this side of the market has grown in recent years.”

British Soft Drinks Association

“The International Sweeteners Association (ISA) is concerned that this new study by Wang et al. on sweetened drinks and risk of atrial fibrillation is another observational study that risks confusing consumers as, by design, observational studies cannot establish a cause-and-effect relationship. Evidence from randomised controlled trials and of prospective cohort studies with rigorous analytical methods confirm no evidence of such harm for low/no calorie sweetened beverages and actually shows some benefits for cardiometabolic health.” Read more

The International Sweeteners Association (ISA)

faq2Do you have questions about low-calorie sweeteners? Want to learn more about maintaining a healthy lifestyle? You asked and we listened. Our resident Registered Dietitians answered the most popular questions about low-calorie sweeteners.

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