A team of 22 researchers carried out a review of current studies on the relationship between diet, cardiometabolic diseases (which include chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and strokes) and obesity. Their findings – published in Obesity Reviews – demonstrated that all not all calories are created equal, especially those sourced from sugary drinks.
“Calories from any food have the potential to increase risk for obesity and cardiometabolic disease because all calories can directly contribute to positive energy balance and fat gain," the study states.
"However, various dietary components or patterns may promote obesity and cardiometabolic disease by additional mechanisms that are not mediated solely by caloric content."
For example, they showed that a can of soft drink is far less healthy than a medium size potato, despite containing the exact same amount of calories. Their research also suggested that eating polyunsaturated fats found in nuts, seeds and vegetables oils was associated with a lower risk of disease, compared to an equal amount of aturated fats found in red meat.
"We have a long way to go to get precise answers on a lot of different nutrition issues,” the study’s lead author, research nutritional biologist Kimber Stanhop, said in a statement.
“Nevertheless, we all agree that a healthy diet pattern consisting of minimally processed whole grains, fruit, vegetables and healthy fats promotes health, compared with the refined and palatable typical Western diet pattern.”