Background: Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) is associated with an increased risk of hypertension in cross-sectional studies. However, prospective data are limited.
Objective: To examine the associations between SSBs and artificially sweetened beverages (ASBs) with incident hypertension.
Design and setting: Prospective analysis using Cox proportional hazards regression to examine the association between SSBs and ASBs with incident hypertension in three large, prospective cohorts, the Nurses' Health Studies I (n = 88,540 women) and II (n = 97,991 women) and the Health Professionals' Follow-Up Study (n = 37,360 men).
Measurements: Adjusted hazard ratios for incident clinically diagnosed hypertension.
Results: Higher SSB and ASB intake was associated with an increased risk of developing hypertension in all three cohorts. In a pooled analysis, participants who consumed at least one SSB daily had an adjusted HR for incident hypertension of 1.13 (95 % CI, 1.09-1.17) compared with those who did not consume SSBs; for persons who drank at least one ASB daily, the adjusted HR was 1.14 (95 % CI, 1.09-1.18). The association between sweetened beverage intake and hypertension was stronger for carbonated beverages versus non-carbonated beverages, and for cola-containing versus non-cola beverages in the NHS I and NHS II cohorts only. Higher fructose intake from SSBs as a percentage of daily calories was associated with increased hypertension risk in NHS I and NHS II (p-trend = 0.001 in both groups), while higher fructose intake from sources other than SSBs was associated with a decrease in hypertension risk in NHS II participants (p-trend = 0.006).
Limitations: Residual confounding factors may interfere with the interpretation of results.
Conclusions: SSBs and ASBs are independently associated with an increased risk of incident hypertension after controlling for multiple potential confounders. These associations may be mediated by factors common to both SSBs and ASBs (e.g., carbonation or cola), but are unlikely to be due to fructose.