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Sugary Drinks are Dangerous Worldwide


According to a new study from an international team of researchers, sugary drinks – which have been identified as the main source of added sugars in Americans’ diets – have been estimated to lead to more than 184,000 adult deaths across the globe each year. This alarming number includes more than 25,000 Americans.

The comprehensive study, which was published in the journal Circulation just last week, is the first of its kind to evaluate the worldwide impact of sugary drinks on cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes by nation, age and gender.

The researchers obtained data on deaths and disabilities from 2010 and calculated the health effects of sugar-sweetened beverages based on dietary surveys of more than 600,000 individuals from across 50 different countries between 1980 and 2010. Sugar-sweetened beverages were defined as any sugary sodas, fruit drinks, sports and energy drinks, sweetened ice tea and homemade sugary drinks such as frescas that contained at least 50 kilocalories per 8-ounce serving. One hundred percent fruit juice was not included.

The team then calculated the number of deaths from diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, which they believed could be attributed to the consumption of sugary drinks. They found that sugar-sweetened beverages led to an estimated 133,000 deaths from diabetes, 45,000 from cardiovascular disease and 6,450 from cancer.

Furthermore, the researchers found that 5 percent of sugar-sweetened beverage-related deaths occurred in low-income countries, while more than 70 percent occurred in middle-income countries and at least 24 percent occurred in high-income countries. While intake varied in men and women across different age groups and countries, sugary drink consumption and deaths related to consumption were highest in countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The study also showed that out of the 20 most populous countries in the world, the death rate related to the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was highest in Mexico, with 405 deaths per million adults. And overall, the United States came in second among the 20 most populous countries, with a death rate of 125 per million adults. Additionally, a total of 8.5 million disability-adjusted life years – or how many years of healthy life are lost due to death and disability – were found to be related to the consumption of sugary drinks.

One of the main takeaways from this assessment is that sugary drinks are drastically reducing not only the length of life, but also the quality of life around the world. The team of researchers who conducted this study calls specifically for strong worldwide prevention programs in order to avoid easily preventable sugar-sweetened beverage-related deaths and diseases across the globe.

Click here to read the abstract of the study.