Diets Rich in Sugary Drinks Linked to 184,000 Adult Deaths Annually

About one-half of the U.S. population consumes sugar-laden drinks on any given day, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A new study finds that diets rich in these sugary drinks cause 184,000 deaths worldwide annually, including 25,000 deaths in the United States.

Those grim numbers represent a newly revised review of the effects of sweet drinks first presented at a scientific meeting in 2013. The new estimate is a tally of deaths from diabetes, heart disease and cancer that scientists have found can be attributed to the consumption of sweetened sodas, fruit drinks, sports/energy drinks and iced teas.

The study, published in the journal Circulation, reviewed dietary surveys in 51 countries, which covered about 612,000 people from 1980 to 2010. Sugar-sweetened sodas, fruit drinks, sports and energy drinks, sugar-sweetened iced teas and homemade sugary drinks were included in the study, but not fruit juices. The study also used data on sugar availability in countries across the globe, to estimate how many deaths from diabetes, heart disease and cancer could be linked to sugary drinks alone in 2010.

“This is not complicated,” says study author Dariush Mozaffarian. “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.”

Average Soda: 10 Teaspoons of Sugar

The average can of sugar-sweetened soda, fruit punch or sweetened tea has about the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar. Four grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon.

Too many sugary drinks in the diet are directly linked to weight gain and obesity, but consumption of too much “added sugars” in the diet can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, tooth decay and even cancer. Drinking sugary beverages every day for six months increases fat deposits in the liver by 150 percent, which directly contributes to diabetes and heart disease, cites an article in the February 2012 issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“Being mindful of the sugar content in drinks is the best way to reduce their contribution to your daily calories consumption and avoid harming your health,” said Cathy Clark-Reyes, a registered dietitian with Baptist Health Primary Care. “Sugary drinks are empty calories. They don’t have any vitamins or minerals. Even 100 percent juice usually has no less than 15-20 grams of sugar per serving.”

Added sugar has become the biggest culprit in diets that escalate diabetes and heart disease. According to a recent study, most U.S. adults consume about 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day, which is far more than recommended by the medical community.

The American Heart Association recommends: No more than six teaspoons or 100 calories a day of sugar for women; and no more than nine teaspoons or 150 calories a day for men.

Read other articles about sugary drinks and added sugars:
  • Sugar Shock: How Sweet Drinks Harm Health
  • Sugar’s Code Names Revealed
  • Reality Check: Kids’ Fruit Juices
  • New Sugar Guidelines: Cut Down on Hidden Sugar
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