WEDNESDAY, March 6, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption is associated with an increased risk for severe versus mild-to-moderate disability among individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study scheduled for presentation at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, to be held from May 4 to 10 in Philadelphia.

Elisa Meier-Gerdingh, M.D., from St. Josef-Hospital Bochum in Germany, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study of 135 people with MS who completed a 102-item food frequency questionnaire. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) score was calculated for each individual; scores ranged from 8 (poorest quality) to 40 (highest quality). The authors examined the correlations between overall DASH scores and DASH component foods/nutrients and disability status.

Thirty of the participants had severe disability. The researchers found a correlation for overall DASH score with disability status. For individual DASH components, the risk for severe versus mild-to-moderate disability was increased for participants in the highest quartile of sugar-sweetened beverage intake (odds ratio, 5.01). There were no correlations for other components with disability status.

“While these results need to be confirmed by larger studies that follow people over a long period of time, and the results do not show that soda and sugar-sweetened beverages cause more severe disability, we do know that sodas have no nutritional value and people with MS may want to consider reducing or eliminating them from their diet,” Meier-Gerdingh said in a statement.

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