Sugary drinks may be responsible for the deaths of 184,000 adults worldwide every year, according to researchers.
A study published today in the journal Circulation suggests that sugary drinks could be blamed for 133,000 deaths from diabetes, 45,000 deaths from heart disease and 6,450 deaths from cancer.
Dariush Mozaffarian, senior author of the study and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, said: “Many countries have a significant number of deaths occurring from a single dietary factor: sugar-sweetened beverages. It should be a global priority substantially to reduce or eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages from the diet.”
He added: “This is not complicated. 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.”
The study is the first detailed global report on what impact sugary drinks — including fizzy drinks, fruit drinks, energy drinks, sweetened ice teas and homemade sugary drinks — have on diabetes, heart disease and cancers.
The researchers pulled together consumption data from 62 dietary surveys conducted in 51 countries between 1980 and 2010, as well as data on availability of sugar. They combined that with analysis of other research on the health harms of sugary drinks and calculated the direct impact on diabetes, and effects due to obesity rates on heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
The study also found that more chronic disease among young people could be attributed to sugary drinks than it could in older adults.
Gitanjali Singh, lead author of the study, said that it raised concerns for the future: “If these young people continue to consume high levels as they age, the effects of high consumption will be compounded by the effects of aging, leading to even higher death and disability rates from heart disease and diabetes than we are seeing now.”
Kawther Hashem, from Action on Sugar, said: “More evidence is showing the alarming impact of sugary drinks on our health, the healthcare service and the economy. It is time these huge profit-making drinks’ companies took to reformulating their products with less sugars.”