Study Title:

Sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption acutely decreases spontaneous baroreflex sensitivity and heart rate variability.

Study Abstract

In healthy humans, fructose-sweetened water consumption increases blood pressure variability (BPV) and decreases spontaneous cardiovagal baroreflex sensitivity (cBRS) and heart rate variability (HRV). However, whether consuming commercially available soft drinks containing high levels of fructose elicits similar responses is unknown. We hypothesized that high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)-sweetened soft drink consumption increases BPV and decreases cBRS and HRV to a greater extent compared with artificially sweetened (diet) and sucrose-sweetened (sucrose) soft drinks and water. Twelve subjects completed four randomized, double-blinded trials in which they drank 500 mL of water or commercially available soft drinks matched for taste and caffeine content. We continuously measured beat-to-beat blood pressure (photoplethysmography) and R-R interval (ECG) before and 30 min after drink consumption during supine rest for 5 min during spontaneous and paced breathing. BPV was evaluated using standard deviation (SD), average real variability (ARV), and successive variation (SV) methods for systolic and diastolic blood pressure. cBRS was assessed using the sequence method. HRV was evaluated using the root mean square of successive differences (RMSSD) in R-R interval. There were no differences between conditions in the magnitude of change from baseline in SD, ARV, and SV (P ≥ 0.07). There were greater reductions in cBRS during spontaneous breathing in the HFCS (-3 ± 5 ms/mmHg) and sucrose (-3 ± 5 ms/mmHg) trials compared with the water trial (+1 ± 5 ms/mmHg, P < 0.03). During paced breathing, HFCS evoked greater reductions in RMSSD compared with water (-26 ± 34 vs. +2 ± 26 ms, P < 0.01). These findings suggest that sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption alters cBRS and HRV but not BPV.

Study Information

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2021 May 1;320(5):R641-R652. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00310.2020. Epub 2021 Feb 3. PMID: 33533320; PMCID: PMC8163604.

Full Study