Sweetened beverages and risk of frailty among older women in the Nurses’ Health Study: A cohort study

by Ellen A. Struijk, Fernando Rodríguez-Artalejo, Teresa T. Fung, Walter C. Willett, Frank B. Hu, Esther Lopez-Garcia


Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) has been consistently associated with a higher risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and premature mortality, whereas evidence for artificially sweetened beverages (ASBs) and fruit juices on health is less solid. The aim of this study was to evaluate the consumption of SSBs, ASBs, and fruit juices in association with frailty risk among older women.

Methods and findings

We analyzed data from 71,935 women aged ≥60 (average baseline age was 63) participating in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), an ongoing cohort study initiated in 1976 among female registered nurses in the United States. Consumption of beverages was derived from 6 repeated food frequency questionnaires (FFQs) administered between 1990 and 2010. Frailty was defined as having at least 3 of the following 5 criteria from the FRAIL scale: fatigue, poor strength, reduced aerobic capacity, having ≥5 chronic illnesses, and weight loss ≥5%. The occurrence of frailty was assessed every 4 years from 1992 to 2014. During 22 years of follow-up, we identified 11,559 incident cases of frailty. Consumption of SSBs was associated with higher risk of frailty after adjustment for diet quality, body mass index (BMI), smoking status, and medication use, specifically, the relative risks (RRs) and 95% confidence interval (95% CI) for ≥2 serving/day versus no SSB consumption was 1.32 (1.10, 1.57); p-value p-value p-value p-value Conclusions

In this study, we observed that consumption of SSBs and ASBs was associated with a higher risk of frailty. However, orange juice intake showed an inverse association with frailty. These results need to be confirmed in further studies using other frailty definitions.

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