Sugar-sweetened sodas, sports drinks and fruit drinks may be associated with 180,000 deaths each year, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association on Tuesday.
Using data from the 2010 Global Burden of Diseases Study, researchers linked intake of sugar-sweetened beverages to 133,000 diabetes deaths, 44,000 deaths from cardiovascular diseases and 6,000 cancer deaths worldwide.
Seventy-eight percent of these deaths due to overconsumption of sugary drinks were in low and middle-income countries.
“In the U.S., our research shows that about 25,000 deaths in 2010 were linked to drinking sugar-sweetened beverages,” said Gitanjali M. Singh, Ph.D., co-author of the study and postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Researchers calculated sugar-sweetened beverage intake around the world by age and sex, by effects of consumption on obesity and diabetes, and by the impact of obesity and diabetes-related deaths.
Of nine world regions, Latin America/Caribbean had the most diabetes deaths (38,000) related to the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in 2010.
East/Central Eurasia had the largest numbers of cardiovascular deaths (11,000) related to sugary beverage consumption in 2010.
Among the world’s 15 most populous countries, Mexico — with one of the highest per-capita consumptions of sugary drinks in the world — had the highest death rate due to these beverages, with 318 deaths per million adults.
Japan, with one of the lowest per-capita consumptions of sugar-sweetened drinks, had the lowest death rate associated with sugary drinks, at about 10 deaths per million adults.
“Because we were focused on deaths due to chronic diseases, our study focused on adults. Future research should assess the amount of sugary beverage consumption in children across the world and how this affects their current and future health,” Singh said.
The American Heart Association recommends adults consume no more than 450 calories per week from sugar-sweetened beverages, based on a 2,000 calorie diet, and offers tips on how Life’s Simple 7™ can help you make better lifestyle choices and eat healthier.
The study was funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.