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'Too many sweets can cause heart attack'

SWEET TASTE: Gummy bears are a popular snack (PA)

A SWEET tooth can do more than just rot your pearly whites, according a study which links excessive sugar consumption to an increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

Consuming the equivalent of a can a day of sugar-sweetened fizzy drinks makes you more likely to have a heart attack, JAMA Internal Medicine reports.

In the study, which looked at data on sugar consumption among tens of thousands of people in the US as well as death rates from heart-related problems, found there was a significant relationship between the amount of sugar consumed and heart risk.

The connection is that too much sugary drinks, desserts and sweets can lead to weight gain, which is in turn bad for your heart.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that added sugar should make up less than 10 per cent of total calorie intake. This is about 70g for men and 50g for women.

On average, most adults and children in the US and the UK are thought to consume too much.

Prof Naveed Sattar from the British Heart Foundation said there could be many reasons why people who eat lots of sugar became unhealthy.

He told the BBC: "Of course, sugar per se is not harmful - we need it for the body's energy needs - but when consumed in excess, it will contribute to weight gain and, in turn, may accelerate heart disease.

"We have known for years about the dangers of excess saturated fat intake, an observation which led the food industry to replace unhealthy fats with presumed 'healthier' sugars in many food products."

Sattar added: "Helping individuals cut not only their excessive fat intake, but also refined sugar intake, could have major health benefits including lessening obesity and heart attacks.

"Ultimately, there needs to be a refocus to develop foods which not only limit saturated fat intake but simultaneously limit refined sugar content."

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