Gone are the days of lounging at soda fountains and enjoying root beer floats on Saturday night dates. Once an innocent treat, sweetened soft drinks are now considered deadly killers. That’s the finding of a new report published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation.
The findings indicate soft drink consumption contributes to obesity, which is likely to cause diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even cancer, leading to about 25,000 deaths in the U.S. each year and about 180,000 worldwide.
Researchers looked at national dietary surveys in more than 50 countries between 1980 and 2010. “They tallied consumption of drinks, homemade and mass-produced, that deliver 50 calories or more per 8-ounce serving, and did not count 100% fruit juices,” reports the Los Angeles Times.
Next, they estimated the contribution sugary drink consumption has on obesity and related illnesses (Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancers of the breast, colon, esophagus, gall bladder, kidney, pancreas and ovaries). The researchers then looked at how many deaths from those diseases were likely to come from increased sugary beverage consumption.
According to the report, Mexico, which has the world’s highest per-capita consumption of soft drinks, had the highest death rate in the world (in 2010) connected to soda consumption: about 24,000 deaths or about 405 per one million adults.
The U.S. ranked second, with 125 soft drink related deaths per one million adults in 2010. While the U.S. has an imbalance in calories when it comes to soda and overall sugar consumption, other countries are being set up for even worse scenarios: “Low- and middle-income countries are bearing the brunt of the death toll attributed to overconsumption of sugar-sweetened sodas, sports drinks and fruit drinks,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “Each year, more than 3 in 4 of the world’s deaths attributed to overconsumption of sugar-sweetened beverages occur in those poor and developing countries.”
The study was the first of its kind to measure soft drink consumption’s contribution to early death, and not a moment too soon. “This is not complicated,” said Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of Tuft University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and a senior author of the new research. “There are no health benefits from sugar-sweetened beverages, and the potential impact of reducing consumption is saving tens of thousands of deaths each year.”
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