Fewer sugary drinks lowers blood pressure
Drinking fewer sweetened drinks reduces blood pressure, study finds
Sodium, uric acid affects blood pressure
Although weight loss accounted for some of these blood pressure-lowering effects, cutting back on sweetened drinks also had an independent effect on blood pressure levels.
Exactly what accounts for this independent effect is not known, but several theories exist. For example, these beverages are often loaded with sodium, which can increase blood pressure, and the sugar in the drinks may increase levels of hormones known as catecholamines, which can cause blood pressure to rise.
Dr George Bakris, president of the American Society of Hypertension, says that uric acid also plays a role.
"High fructose corn syrup [a more common ingredient in the US than in Europe] increases uric acid levels, which has been shown to increase high blood pressure," says Bakris.
The Food Standards Agency carried out a public consultation in 2009 about fat in foods and added sugar in drinks.
Following the consultation, the FSA is encouraging the drinks industry to reduce added sugar in soft drinks and make smaller 250ml measures available.
At the time of the FSA announcement in March, the British Soft Drinks Association said: "Over the last 20 years an extensive range of low and no added sugar drinks has been introduced; these now account for more than 61% of the market. There is a wide range of pack sizes available for people to choose from to meet their varying needs, and nutritional information is provided on the label.
"There are however, significant technical, financial and consumer challenges which manufacturers will need to assess when exploring new product developments. The quality of products remains paramount and we need to ensure new product innovations meet consumer tastes and demand.
"We are pleased the FSA has recognised the ongoing work undertaken by the industry in providing a wide choice of soft drinks and pack sizes, but believe that an emphasis on the importance of a balanced diet and active lifestyle would be more beneficial than the setting of arbitrary targets."