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The #1 Worst Drink Causing a Fatty Liver, New Research Suggests

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease could possibly be avoided if you cut out this beverage.
FACT CHECKED BY Kristen Warfield

When you pick up fast food for dinner or enjoy a big bowl of popcorn while watching a movie, you might also grab a soft drink. While there's no doubt that the fabulously fizzy beverages are a popular option, there are also quite a few facts about soda that you'll likely find disturbing. That includes the results of a recent study which found that soft drinks can increase the risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

During the study which was presented at ENDO 2022, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting, per Healthline, researchers took at look at data from 2017 and 2018 that was collected from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The information from 3,292 participants showed that 70% of Mexican Americans who were involved in the study and suffered from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease also had diets that contained a high amount of fructose. On the other hand, those who consumed less fructose were less likely to have the same liver-related issue. This led the researchers to note that high fructose corn syrup, which is found in soft drinks, can increase the risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

diet soda bad for stomach
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Dr. Hillel Tobias, the director of hepatology at the Concorde Medical Group in New York who is associated with Lenox Hill Hospital, told Healthline, "The Endocrine Society presentation found a direct relationship in all segments of the population between the extent of high fructose consumption and the incidence of fatty liver disease."

"An analysis of the deleterious effect of high fructose corn syrup on the development of fatty liver disease presented at the Endocrine Society meeting confirms the importance of controlling the intake of this harmful ingredient found in most sodas and candies," said Dr. Tobias.

Indeed, "one 12 oz can of Coca Cola contains 39 grams of sugar—that's like eating 10 tsp of sugar, providing you with empty calories that are completely void of nutrients," Alyssa Wilson, RD and Signos Health nutritionist, tells Eat This, Not That! "Since this is coming in liquid form, drinking sodas provide a quick dump of glucose into the bloodstream. This promotes a blood sugar spike that can lead to those classic symptoms of being on the blood sugar rollercoaster: crashing, irritability, hunger, and sugar cravings, to name a few."

Beyond that, Wilson explains that drinking soda on a regular basis, "especially those that contain high fructose corn syrup, is linked to an increase in chronic health conditions like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease," as well as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Wilson also notes that "when it comes to diet sodas, the artificial sweeteners aren't much better, as some studies suggest they are associated with impaired glucose metabolism, increased calorie intake, and weight gain."

To find out about better beverage options that will still satisfy your soft drink craving, be sure to read 11 Best Sugar-Free Sodas on Grocery Store Shelves.

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Desirée O
Desirée O is a freelance writer who covers lifestyle, food, and nutrition news among other topics. Read more
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