News Releases & Statements
American Beverage Association Statement on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Blood Pressure
In response to "Sugar-Sweetened Beverage, Sugar Intake of Individuals and Their Blood Pressure: INTERMAP Study," published today in the journal Hypertension, Dr. Maureen Storey, senior vice president of science policy for the American Beverage Association, issued the following statement:
"This cross-sectional epidemiological study does not and cannot establish that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages in any way causes hypertension. To be clear: finding a very weak association between two things does not establish a cause and effect relationship. Furthermore, this study has significant flaws. In fact, the level of blood pressure changes noted by the authors are inconsequential and well within standard measurement error. Regrettably, this study does nothing more than distract the public from widely accepted and clinically proven approaches to lowering the risks for hypertension and heart disease.
As with other recent studies on sugar-sweetened beverages, the authors apparently failed to control for other critical variables of far greater importance than beverage consumption when it comes to increased risk of hypertension. In fact, it is unclear how, or even if, the authors controlled for body mass index - one indicator of obesity, which is a critical risk factor for hypertension. The authors also did not disclose other foods, food categories or critical macronutrients, such as sodium and potassium intakes, that may or may not have been linked to hypertension. Rather, the results of their analysis obfuscate other important variables that are linked to high blood pressure. It also appears that the data for the U.S. participants were combined inappropriately with participants from the U.K., where beverages are made with different sweeteners than in the U.S. and consumers have strikingly different sugar-sweetened beverage consumption patterns.
We agree that hypertension is a serious health concern, but there are ways to mitigate against it, such as maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, following a healthy eating plan, reducing dietary sodium and moderating alcohol intake, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. Importantly, those with borderline high or high blood pressure should seek the professional advice of their physician or other health professional to learn how best to manage hypertension, as well as how to maintain a healthy body weight through balanced diet and exercise.
When it comes to cardiovascular disease risk, there is nothing unique about the calories from added sugars, which has been confirmed by the Institute of Medicine. What we know is that, according to the American Heart Association, the major risk factors for heart disease are increasing age, gender (being male), genetics (including race), smoking and being obese. While many non-behavioral risk factors are beyond our control, there are things we can do to help mitigate the risks for heart disease, such as not smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight and being physically fit.
If we truly want to reduce the incidence of hypertension and heart disease, health professionals as well as other stakeholders must educate Americans about the risk factors and encourage people to maintain a healthy weight by balancing calories consumed - which include eating a sensible, balanced diet - with calories burned by engaging in regular physical activity."
The American Beverage Association is the trade association representing the broad spectrum of companies that manufacture and distribute non-alcoholic beverages in the United States.