One can of fizzy drink a day increases risk of diabetes and heart disease
Visceral fat affects how our hormones function and is thought to play a larger role in insulin resistance
A can of fizzy drink a day increases fat around the vital organs linked to diabetes and heart disease, a new study warned. Middle aged people who regularly drank sugary drinks had more visceral fat, "deep" fat wraps around a number of important internal organs such as the liver, pancreas and intestines.
Those who drank it daily had 30 per cent more visceral fat while those who drank it once a week but not daily had eight per cent more than those who never drank the drinks
But there was no link found with diet soft drinks.
Visceral fat affects how our hormones function and is thought to play a larger role in insulin resistance - which may boost Type 2 diabetes and heart disease risk.
The researchers said the findings back calls to cut sugar out of diets.
The UK government recommends that free or added sugars shouldn't make up more than 5 per cent of the energy or calories you get from food and drink each day.
That equates to a maximum 30g of added sugar a day for adults, roughly seven teaspoons, no more than 19g a day for children aged four to six equal to five teaspoons and no more than 24g or six teaspoons for those aged seven to 10.
A 330ml can of Coke or Pepsi has nine teaspoons.
Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine Dr Caroline Fox of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute said: "There is evidence linking sugar-sweetened beverages with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
"Our message to consumers is to follow the current dietary guidelines and to be mindful of how much sugar-sweetened beverages they drink.
"To policy makers, this study adds another piece of evidence to the growing body of research suggesting sugar-sweetened beverages may be harmful to our health."
The findings came from the US Government funded Framingham Heart Study involving 1,003 participants with an average age 45 and nearly half women.
They filled in food questionnaires and underwent CT scans at the start and the end of the study to measure body fat changes.
They were classified as non-drinkers, occasional drinkers having a sugary drink once a month or less than once a week, frequent drinkers drinking once a week or less than once a day and those who drank at least one a day.
Over a six-year follow-up period, independent of the participants' age, gender, physical activity, body mass index and other factors, they found visceral fat volume increased across the board.
In non drinkers it increased by 658 cm cubed, in occasional drinkers 649 cm cubed, frequent drinkers 707 cm and daily drinkers 852 cm cubed.
Dr Jiantao Ma added while the exact biological mechanism is unknown it was possible that added sugars may contribute to insulin resistance, a hormonal imbalance that increases the risk for Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Dr Ma said: "Our findings are in line with current dietary guidelines that suggest limiting the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages."
The study was published in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation.