Deadly Drink: Consumption Of Sugary Drinks Linked To Deaths Worldwide
March 20, 2013

Sugary Drinks Linked To 180,000 Annual Deaths Worldwide

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redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Drinking non-diet sodas, sports drinks, fruit drinks, and other sugar-sweetened beverages could be associated with as many as 180,000 deaths worldwide each year, according to a new study led by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health.

The study, presented during the American Heart Association´s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions (EPI NPAM 2013), utilized data collected as part of the 2010 Global Burden of Diseases Study to look at the global health impacts of sugar-sweetened beverages.

According to that data, sodas and other sugary drinks could be linked to 133,000 diabetes deaths; 44,000 cardiovascular disease-related deaths and 6,000 cancer-related deaths in the year 2010. Of those deaths, 78 percent came in low-to-middle-income countries, not high-income nations.

The researchers divided the results into nine different global regions. The most diabetes-related deaths came in the Latin America/Caribbean region, where a reported 38,000 people died as a result of drinking sugar-sweetened beverages. The greatest number of cardiovascular deaths (11,000) originated in the East/Central Eurasia.

“Among the world´s 15 most populous countries, Mexico — one of the countries with the highest per-capita consumption of sugary beverages in the world — had the highest death rate due to these beverages, with 318 deaths per million adults linked to sugar-sweetened beverage intake,” the American Heart Association explained in a statement on Tuesday.

“Japan, one of the countries with lowest per-capita consumption of sugary beverages in the world, had the lowest death rate associated with the consumption of sugary beverages, at about 10 deaths due to per million adults,” they added. The study, which was funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), also reported that 25,000 deaths in the US could be linked to the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in 2010.

Since the study centered on deaths resulting from chronic diseases, the researchers had to focus solely on adults, explained co-author Gitanjali M. Singh, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health. Singh added that future investigations into the subject should “assess the amount of sugary beverage consumption in children across the world and how this affects their current and future health.”

Sugar-sweetened beverages have been the source of much health-related controversy as of late. Earlier this month, an attempt to ban the sale of large-sized sugary sodas in New York City, which was scheduled to go into effect earlier this month, was blocked by a state court judge.

In his decision, New York Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling declared that Mayor Michael Bloomberg´s ban on the sale of sugary soft drinks in quantities larger than 16 ounces in places that were regulated by the city´s health department was arbitrary and improperly enacted, and that there were too many loopholes in the legislation. Had it been enacted, the ban would have impacted fast food chains, movie theaters, street vendors and stadium concessions — but not grocery stores and convenient stores, which were exempt from the ban.