The amount of added sugar in the American diet has surged significantly within the last 50 years. The significant increase is contributed by the higher intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, which is comprised of an estimated one-third of the total added sugar consumption in the American diet.
High added sugar intake has always been linked to early menstruation, poor semen quality, type-2 diabetes, and weight gain. However, this study is the first of its kind to investigate the relationship between sugary drinks and fertility.
The study, which was spearheaded by Boston University School of Public Health researchers in Massachusetts, has revealed that the intake of one or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day — by either partner – has been associated with the chances of a reduction in the couple getting pregnant.
The researchers surveyed 3,828 women between the ages of 21 and 45, and 1,045 of their male partners. They were residents of the U.S. or Canada and were part of a Pregnancy Study Online web-based prospective cohort study. The research team gathered information on the participants’ diet, lifestyle factors, and medical history. The female participants also answered follow-up questionnaires every two months until they either became pregnant or the 12-month follow-up period was done.
“We found positive associations between intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and lower fertility, which were consistent after controlling for many other factors, including obesity, caffeine intake, alcohol, smoking, and overall diet quality,” said Elizabeth Hatch, lead author and professor of epidemiology.
“Couples planning a pregnancy might consider limiting their consumption of these beverages, especially because they are also related to other adverse health effects,” she added.
Sugar-sweetened beverage intake of both males and females was linked to 20 percent reduced fecundability, the average monthly probability of conception. Energy drink consumption was associated with even larger reductions in fertility, although the study done to find out about this was based on the results to a small group of consumers.
There was little association between intake of fruit juices or diet sodas and fertility. (Related: Is Diet Soda Bad for You? Here’s What Happen to Your Body When You Drink It.)
“Given the high levels of sugar-sweetened beverages consumed by reproductive-aged couples in North America, these findings could have important public health implications,” the authors concluded.
In the United States, around 15 percent of couples are affected by infertility, contributing to the annual cost of fertility treatments to more than $5 billion. This study is a step towards the right direction, because if there are avoidable risk factors, couples should be aware of them, so that they may not have to endure the psychological stress and financial burden of finding it difficult to conceive.
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