A new study suggests that sugary drinks are linked to the deaths of as many as 180,000 people every year, including 25,000 Americans, the Washington Post reports.
The study, conducted by researchers from Tufts University, estimates that one in every 100 deaths related to obesity could be caused — at least in part — by too much soda.
The sugary beverages may also be linked to as many as 133,000 deaths from diabetes, 45,000 from cardiovascular disease, and 6,450 from cancer, according to the study.
Dariush Mozaffarian, an author of the study and Dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, told TuftsNow that an important part of their findings was the proportion of obesity and diabetes soda related deaths among younger people.
“In the US, for example, about 10% of all obesity- and diabetes-related deaths under age 45 were attributed to sugar-sweetened beverage consumption. That’s a remarkably high proportion,” he told TuftsNews.
Mozaffarian also mentioned that the disproportionate amount of younger people drinking sugary beverages compared to elderly people will dramatically increase the number of people who are suffering from diseases related to the drinks.
Most of the sugary drinks related deaths are in developing countries and South America is especially badly affected. In first place is Mexico, which totals 405 death per million adults. The US is ranked fourth, with 125 deaths per million adults.
The American Beverage Association dismissed the study in a statement, stating that it “does not show that consuming sugar-sweetened beverages causes chronic diseases and the authors themselves acknowledge that they are at best estimating effects of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption.”
An article for the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFICF) also notes that since the Tufts study is one of the first of its kind, it’s hard to assess just how accurate it is.
Of the data that is available, however, the vast majority shows that heavy sugary drink consumption is linked with an increased risk of diabetes, gout, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and obesity. However, people who drink a lot of soda also tend to engage in other unhealthy behaviours as well, such as smoking, not exercising, and eating less healthily overall.
Those health factors were not controlled for in this study.
Still, the criticism may need to be taken with a grain of salt, since the Coca Cola Company, Red Bull North America, PepsiCo, and Mars Incorporated are all supporters of the IFICF.
Mozaffarian, the author of the original study, was blunt about what he thinks should be done.
“We need a real cultural shift here. Would these people promote cigarettes to kids? I doubt it, and they shouldn’t promote sugar-sweetened beverages, either,” he told Tuftsnews.
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