According to an unsettling study published Monday in the journal Circulation, sugary drinks may be responsible for 184,000 deaths on a yearly basis across worldwide.
Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, lead author of the study, explained that the product had no intrinsic nutritional value but the impact on public health was significant. Dr. Mozaffarian urged governments to remove sugar-sweetened beverages from the food supply.
Researchers conducted a review on more than 60 dietary surveys from 51 countries and used data on more than 600,000 adults between 1980 and 2010.
The team was mainly focused on fruit drinks, ice teas, energy and sports beverages, the popular sodas, and home made sweetened beverages. One hundred percent fruit drinks were not taken into account.
As of 2013, sugary drinks seem to have indirectly killed 133,000 people who died of diabetes, 45,000 people affected by a heart disease and nearly 6,500 cancer patients, study shows.
But sugary drink consumption was not even in all countries. In Japan, where sugar sweetened beverages are not that popular, seniors who died of an ailment caused by sugary drinks were less than 1 percent. But that figure soared in Mexico, where the death toll of sugary drinks among young adults was 30 percent.
Actually, Mexico is the country with the highest mortality rate attributable to sugary drinks (about 405 deaths per million), the United States being the second (125 deaths per million).
But in Mexico and the whole entire Latin America people usually resort to sweetened beverages because safe drinking water is scarce, said the researchers.
On the other hand, the American Beverage Association, a group that represents the industry’s interests, said that the new study provided no cause-and-effect link between sugary drinks and chronic diseases.
The group also noted that the researchers themselves acknowledged that the figures were just estimates of the real situation.
Dr. Mozaffarian replied that the industry was just trying to put their heads in the sand when stating that they were not sure whether obesity was linked to sugary drink consumption.
The researchers said that there’s a plethora of health conditions that were not mentioned in the study but sugar sweetened drinks are linked to them – gallstones, joint disease and back pains and many others.
Currently the research team is concerned that the health issues may get even worse on the long run because sugary drinks are more popular with younger generations.
Nutrition expert Prof. Liz Ruder from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center said that though the study had some limitations” the rich amount of consumption data and the “sophisticated statistical techniques” researchers had employed during their research point out that the results may be accurate.
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