Sugar-Sweetened Beveragesa and Cell Aging

Sophomore (College 2nd year) ・Biology ・APA ・3 Sources

Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) form the biggest source of added sugar in the American diet. It has been found out that adults aged between 20 and 34 years consume huge quantities of calories of sugar-sweetened beverages. It is estimated that those adults aged 35 and above consume between 230 and 260 (Leung et al., 2014) of sweetened sugar beverages every day. The high level of consumption of SSBs has emerged to be one of the major issues that need a serious attention in the public health sector policies. Efforts have continued to establish possible solutions that could help minimize the impacts of SSBs on the health of Americans.

This is a summary of an article that was written as part of the scientific research through a survey that was set to investigate the impacts of the SSBs among consumers and to draw correlations that underlie between the consumption of SSBs and the length of leukocyte telomere, particularly in healthy adults. This research was conducted by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. The objective of the research was to test whether the length maintenance of the leukocyte telomere that is responsible for cellular aging provides a link between the consumption of SSBs and the risk of getting the cardiometabolic disease.

Soda and Cell Aging

Besides a rise in the consumption of SSBs, cases of diet-related disorders such as obesity have also gone up in the recent past (Leung et al., 2014). Studies have suggested that continuous consumption of SSBs is linked directly to the increase in obesity cases and diabetes type 2 and the metabolic syndrome. The underlying problem is that these associations do not have clearly explained mechanisms and hence they are not yet clearly understood. Furthermore, there is little evidence that suggests excessive calories together with high insulin resistance levels, inflammation and oxidative stress are likely to be responsible for mediating these associations.

Factors such as inflammation and oxidative stress are associated with the reduction in the length and impairing of telomere (Leung et al., 2016). This association can be a likely explanation for the link between the consumption of SSBs and the metabolic disease. A telomere is a protein cap of the DNA positioned at the end of chromosomes to promote the stability of the chromosomes as well as protect the genomic structure of the DNA from damage. The length of the telomere shortens naturally with every cycle of the cell, and when the length falls below a critical length then cell division is obscured, and the cell starts to malfunction.

Besides the biological age, the shortness of telomere is also linked to psychological stress and lifestyle behaviors (Schutte, & Malouff, 2015). Highly shortened telomeres are associated with the high prevalence of the cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and diabetes. Based on the known impacts of SSBs on insulin resistance and oxidative stress, the study intended at looking into the associations between SSBs, soda cell, and consumption of pure fruit juice about the length of the telomere. The study was done on a sample comprising healthy adults in the US.



The participants in the study were healthy adults in the United States. All the participants were aged between 20 and 65 years (Leung et al., 2014). Both males and females participated almost in equal numbers although women were slightly more than men. The participants were of various races including the Non-Hispanic White, Non-Hispanic Black, Latino, Hispanic and other races (Leung et al., 2014). The Non-Hispanic whites formed the majority of the participants followed by the Latinos, the Non-Hispanic black, and other races respectively. The participants had equally distributed education levels, with the sample having grade 12 and below, high school diplomas, some college levels, and college graduates. The majority of the participants had a 12th-grade level or below. Most of the participants were either married or living with a partner. A substantial number of them were not married while a small number were either divorced or separated. More than half of the participants had never smoked in their life.

Assessments and Measures

Statistical analysis of the study was tailored to represent a national representative estimate with the analysis accounting for complex NHANES design for sampling which incorporated sampling weights for both strata, generic subsample and primary subsample units. The weights for sampling accounted for various probability samples and possible nonresponsive biases from some participants. The analysis began by examining the bivariate links between LTL and the characteristics of individuals. Due to the skewed nature of LTL, it was first modified to fit into the regressive model. Linear regression model was later used on the modified LTL to approximate the length difference in LTLs that was caused by an increase in the consumption of SSBs. In the first model, age categories, energy intake, and gender characteristics were let to fit into the model. All the statistical tests had two sides, and the significance of the statistics was considered to be less than 0.5.


Age was found to have a linear correlation with the length of the telomere. A mean length of telomere was found in non-smokers, the blacks, Hispanics and in adults with normal body weight just like in the previous studies. The correlation between different beverages was modest. The intake of pure fruit juice, no-carbonated SSBs, and sugar-sweetened sodas was directly correlated. The consumption of sugar-sweetened soda was the highest with a consumption rate of 12 ounces per day while the other beverages had a lower consumption. No association was found between the diet soda or noncarbonated SSBs and the length of the telomere.


From the national representative sample comprising of healthy adults, it was found that the typical consumption rate of sugar-sweetened soda was 1.5 servings (Leung et al., 2014). This amount is higher than the recommended limit by the American Heart Association. As it was in the hypothesis of the study, it was found out that a daily serving of 8 ounces of sugar-sweetened sodas has a linear association with the shortening of telomeres. A higher beverage serving of SSBs means a high rate of aging among the consumers. More than a fifth of the adults reported more than 20 ounces (Leung et al., 2014) consumption rate of sugar-sweetened sodas. This study was the first ever to link the consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas with telomere length using a large national representative sample of males above the age of 20 years and above. The consumption of SSBs is associated with the shortening of the telomere which in turn is linked to the cardio-metabolic disease.

No particular association between the use of noncarbonated SSBs and the length of telomere was observed from the study. The lack of such an association between these variables is likely to have been caused by factors such as oxidative stress, insulin resistance, and inflammation. LTL’s measurement was done on single DNA specimens which showed on particular information regarding the shortening of the telomere. The strengths of the study included using a large national representative sample that was key in providing reliable findings. Another strength of the study is the use of a validated method for estimating the average intake of beverages using the NHANES dietary data which is very extensive. The limitations of the study included the difficulty of inferring the causation because of cross-sectional nature of the data.


An understanding of the role played by telomere length maintenance is essential in knowing the ways of improving our diets. The study results indicate that continuous consumption of SSBs including sodas is linked to the shortening of telomeres. Further research on the same subject is required to verify these associations through an experimental research. However, there is enough evidence that shows that we need to reduce the rate at which we consume SSBs to help us improve our health and reduce the risk of contracting chronic diseases.


Leung, C., Laraia, B., Coleman-Phox, K., Bush, N., Lin, J., & Blackburn, E. et al. (2016). Sugary beverage and food consumption, and leukocyte telomere length maintenance in pregnant women. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition,70(9), 1086-1088.

Leung, C., Laraia, B., Needham, B., Rehkopf, D., Adler, N., & Lin, J. et al. (2014). Soda and cell aging: Associations between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and leukocyte telomere length in healthy adults from the national health and nutrition examination surveys. American Journal of Public Health,104(12), 2425-2431.

Schutte, N., & Malouff, J. (2015). The association between depression and leukocyte telomere length: A meta-analysis. Depression and Anxiety,32(4), 229-238.

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