Children who drink sugar-laden fizzy drinks may be at greater risk of developing heart disease later in life, a new study suggests.
Researchers at the University of Sydney found that the children who drank one or more soft drinks each day had narrower arteries in the back part of the eye — a factor associated with increased risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
That was a potential marker for future cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, researchers from the Westmead Millennium Institute for Medical Research at the university said.
The report echoed the findings of a 2007 study that people who drank soda every day — even diet soda — were more likely to develop risk factors for heart disease.
More from GlobalPost: Eating processed red meat boosts risk of dying young, Harvard study finds
That study, by Boston University School of Medicine researchers, found that a regular soda consumption increased the risk of developing a condition called metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and diabetes.
"Even one soda per day increases your risk of developing metabolic syndrome by about 50 percent," said the lead author, Ramachandran Vasan, according to a report on the WebMD website.
However, according to NineMSN, the Westmead study is the first to show that soft drinks and carbohydrates in childhood are linked to narrower retinal vessels.
About 2,000 12-year-olds took part in study, which was an extension of another research project which found similar eye damage in children who watched too much television.
The damage to the eye did does not affect vision.
Institute spokesman Bamini Gopinath reportedly said in a statement: "Children with a high consumption of soft drinks and carbohydrates had a more adverse microvascular profile compared to those who did not drink so many soft drinks or eat so many carbs."
Gopinath said the results reinforced the importance of a healthy diet.
"This is just another piece of evidence to show that fizzy drinks really aren't that good for our children," Gopinath said.
"More studies like this would build a strong evidence base to perhaps bring about change in policy and practice and in the way foods are products are marketed or advertised to our children."