12:21pm Tuesday 18 February 2020
Metabolic Problems / Obesity

Sugary drinks with high-protein meals may contribute to obesity problem

A new study suggests that guzzling sugary drinks with burgers or other high-protein meals will induce the body to store more fat.

Twenty-seven adults — 13 male and 14 female with an average age of 23 and of healthy weight — participated in the study. During two 24-hour visits to the laboratory, they received two meals containing 15 percent protein on one visit and two meals containing 30 percent protein on the other visit. Participants drank a sugar-sweetened beverage with one of the meals and a non-sugary drink with the other.

Participants stayed in a room calorimeter — a small, furnished chamber that assesses energy expenditure, or how many calories someone is burning — by measuring movement, oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange, temperature, and pressure.

“We found that about a third of the additional calories provided by the sugar-sweetened drinks were to expended, fat metabolism was reduced, and it took less energy to metabolize the meals,” said study lead author Dr. Shanon Casperson from the USDA-Agricultural Research Service Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, in a statement. “This decreased metabolic efficiency may ‘prime’ the body to store more fat.”

Dr. Casperson said the researchers were surprised by the effect combining sugary drinks with high-protein foods had on metabolism. This pairing also increased the participants’ desire to eat salty and savory foods for four hours after a meal.

The findings suggest that having a sugary drink with a meal has an impact on both the intake and expenditure sides of the energy balance equation. On the one hand, the extra energy from the drink did not make people feel more sated. On the other hand, the additional calories consumed were not expended and fat oxidation decreased.

“The results provide further insight into the potential role of sugar-sweetened drinks — the largest single source of sugar in the American diet — in weight gain and obesity,” Dr. Casperson added.

The study is detailed in the open access journal BMC Nutrition.

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