Chronic overconsumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) is associated with unfavourable health effects, including promotion of obesity. However, the acute effects of consuming SSBs on glucose and lipid metabolism remain to be characterized in a real-world, post-prandial context of prolonged sitting. We quantified the acute effects of between-meal SSB consumption compared with water, on glucose and lipid metabolism in habitual soft drink consumers during prolonged sitting.
Twenty-eight overweight or obese young adults [15 males; 23 ± 3 (mean ± SD) years, body mass index (BMI) 31.0 ± 3.6 kg/m2) participated. During uninterrupted sitting and following standardized breakfast and lunch meals, each participant completed two 7-h conditions on separate days in a randomized, crossover design study. For each condition, participants consumed either a sucrose SSB or water mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Peak responses and total area under the curve (tAUC) over 7 h for blood glucose, insulin, C-peptide, triglyceride and non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) concentrations were quantified and compared.
Compared to water, SSB consumption significantly increased the peak responses for blood glucose (20 ± 4% (mean ± SEM)), insulin (43 ± 15%) and C-peptide (21 ± 6%) concentrations. The tAUC for all these parameters was also increased by SSB consumption. The tAUC for triglycerides was 15 ± 5% lower after SSBs and this was driven by males (P < 0.05), as females showed no difference between conditions. The tAUC for NEFAs was 13 ± 5% lower after the SSB condition (P < 0.05).
Between-meal SSB consumption significantly elevated plasma glucose responses, associated with a sustained elevation in plasma insulin throughout a day of prolonged sitting. The SSB-induced reduction in circulating triglycerides and NEFAs indicates significant modulation of lipid metabolism, particularly in males. These metabolic effects may contribute to the development of metabolic disease when SSB consumption is habitual and co-occurring with prolonged sitting. Clinical Trial Registry number: ACTRN12616000840482, https://anzctr.org.au/Trial/Registration/TrialReview.aspx?ACTRN=12616000840482.