The data showed that among middle-aged adults, there was a direct correlation between greater sweetened beverage consumption and increased visceral fat.

Visceral fat or 'deep' fat wraps around a number of important internal organs such as the liver, pancreas and intestines, which may boost Type-2 diabetes and heart disease risk.

This type of fat affects how our hormones function and is thought to play a larger role in insulin resistance - which may boost Type-2 diabetes and heart disease risk.

"There is evidence linking sugar-sweetened beverages with cardiovascular disease and Type-2 diabetes," said lead author Caroline Fox, special volunteer with US National Institutes of Health (NIH)."

Our message to consumers is to follow the current dietary guidelines and to be mindful of how much sugar-sweetened beverages they drink.

For the study, a total of 1,003 participants with an average age 45 answered food questionnaires and underwent CT scans at the start and the end of the study to measure body fat changes.

They were ranked into four categories: non-drinkers; occasional drinkers; frequent drinkers; and those who drank at least one sugar sweetened beverage daily.

Over a six-year follow-up period, independent of the participants' age, gender, physical activity, body mass index and other factors, they found visceral fat volume increased.

The study was published in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation.

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