“Soda and Cell Aging” by Leung et al.

Summary of Findings

The study found that age and racial orientation of respondents were linearly correlated with telomere length (Black and Hispanic adults had longer telomeres), and that the average daily consumption of sugar-sweetened soda among participants (12 ounces or 1.5 servings) exceeded the American Heart Association’s recommended limit for added sugar. Additionally, the study found that daily servings for sugar-sweetened beverages were linearly correlated with shorter telomeres and subsequent increase in aging when other age-associated characteristics (e.g., sociodemographic and health-related variables) were controlled, implying that an increased intake of sugar-sweetened beverages had a direct effect on length of telomeres as well as aging (Leung et al., 2014). Although the authors were able to prove the hypothesis that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with shorter telomeres, they nevertheless failed to associate telomere length with other dietary aspects, such as sociodemographic characteristics, lifestyle factors, and body mass index (BMI).

Another important finding was that telomere shortening mediated the relationship between the uptake of sugar-sweetened beverages and metabolic disease, giving credence to the assertion that the consumption of these beverages has a direct effect on impaired fasting glucose and insulin resistance (Leung et al., 2014). As reported by these authors, other studies had found that sugar-sweetened beverages were “known to increase oxidative stress and systematic inflammation, which are both processes that can influence telomere attrition” (p. 2429). Lastly, the study found no significant relationship between consumption of noncarbonated sugar-sweetened beverages and telomere length, and that consumption of fruit juice had potentially beneficial effects that balanced out the adverse effects of liquid sugars.

Information Presented in Tables and Graphs

The authors have relied on tables to show summaries of the various descriptive and inferential analyses done on selected variables of interest to the study. The authors have also used a diagrammatic representation to summarise the effects of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, from intake to metabolic disease progression (Leung et al., 2014). Available literature demonstrates that tables are increasingly used in data analysis as they not only assist the researcher to arrange the data in a convenient form, but also ensure adequate understanding of the findings by readers (Brillinger, 2011). In the study under review, for instance, Table Three not only arranges the study findings in a convenient form but also assists readers to understand the associations between beverage consumption, demographic characteristics, and effects on telomere length.

Using Table One, it would be easier for a reader to understand the mean values of telomere length by respondent’s sociodemographic characteristics and lifestyle behaviors, and also the strength of the relationships between these variables using the correlation coefficient. The information contained in Table Two guides readers in understanding the strength and direction of the relationships between the various sugar-sweetened beverages investigated in the study. As suggested, Figure One provides a clear and coherent diagrammatic representation of the immediate changes related to the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, the ensuing biochemical changes, as well as how these influence telomeric shortening and metabolic disease progression. This is consistent with the works of Treiman (2008), who argued that the main objective of using graphical representations in explaining the findings of research studies is to present data in a clear, accurate, and easily interpreted manner.

Summary of Study’s Conclusion

Overall, the study concluded that regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with substantially sorter telomeres; however, further experimental research studies are needed to investigate the pathway from soda to cell to better comprehend the dynamics of this relationship (Leung et al., 2014).


Brillinger, D.R. (2011). Data analysis, exploratory. In B. Badie, D. Berg-Schlosser, & L Morlion (Eds.), International Encyclopedia of Political Science (pp. 530-537). Web.

Leung, C.W., Laraia, B.A., Needham, B.L., Rehkopf, D.H., Adler, N.E., Lin, J…Epel, E.S. (2014). Soda and cell aging: Associations between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and leukocyte telomere length in healthy adults from the national health and nutrition examination surveys. American Journal of Public Health, 104(12), 2425-2431.

Treiman, D.J. (2008). Quantitative data analysis: Doing research to test ideas. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.