Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) have little nutritional value and a robust body of evidence has linked the intake of SSBs to weight gain and risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D), cardiovascular disease (CVD), and some cancers. Metabolic Syndrome (MetSyn) is a clustering of risk factors that precedes the development of T2D and CVD; however, evidence linking SSBs to MetSyn is not clear. To make informed recommendations about SSBs, new evidence needs to be considered against existing literature. This review provides an update on the evidence linking SSBs and cardiometabolic outcomes including MetSyn. Findings from prospective cohort studies support a strong positive association between SSBs and weight gain and risk of T2D and coronary heart disease (CHD), independent of adiposity. Associations with MetSyn are less consistent, and there appears to be a sex difference with stroke with greater risk in women. Findings from short-term trials on metabolic risk factors provide mechanistic support for associations with T2D and CHD. Conclusive evidence from cohort studies and trials on risk factors support an etiologic role of SSB in relation to weight gain and risk of T2D and CHD. Continued efforts to reduce intake of SSB should be encouraged to improve the cardiometabolic health of individuals and populations.
Keywords: cardiometabolic risk; cardiovascular disease; metabolic syndrome; sugar-sweetened beverages; type 2 diabetes; weight gain.