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Studying Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption

The research question:

What is the association between sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, and mortality?

Sugar-sweetened beverages like soft drinks (regular soda), flavored juice drinks, sports drinks, and sweetened tea are the most common source of added sugars in the American diet. Consuming sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with an increased risk of weight gain, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and some cancers.

Meet the researcher: Dr. Lorena S. Pacheco received her doctoral degree in Epidemiology from the University of California San Diego-San Diego State University Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health. Her research focuses on nutrition and chronic disease prevention, particularly cardiometabolic disease prevention. She is a practicing bilingual and multicultural registered dietitian nutritionist, and works with diverse populations in the U.S. and Latin America as a dietitian and research collaborator.

What makes this project unique: This project captures a different profile of sugar-sweetened beverages than exists today. In 1995, the year the baseline CTS questionnaire was administered, there was a limited selection of sugar-sweetened beverages compared with the variety of sweetened coffees, teas, sodas, and sports drinks that are currently available. This study provides a snapshot of the long-term risks associated with drinking the sugar-sweetened beverages of the mid-1990s.

Previous studies have examined sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and one disease endpoint, such as colorectal cancer. However, we know that diet is associated with multiple health outcomes. This project builds on that understanding by using the same research approach to study three disease endpoints: cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, and mortality.

This type of study demonstrates the continued relevance of CTS questionnaire data. These data are supporting a new generation of researchers: the diet data collected from our study participants almost 25 years ago were used by Dr. Pacheco for her doctoral dissertation project to study health outcomes today. Over two decades after the CTS began, there continue to be new scientific findings using participant responses.

The questionnaire answers used: This analysis used self-reported health data from the very first study questionnaire in 1995-1996.

From Questionnaire 1:

- Alcohol consumption

- Anthropometric Measurements (weight, BMI)

- Demographics

- Diet

- Family History

- Health Conditions

- Medications

- Physical Activity

- Smoking


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