Sports drink guzzlers take note: The consumption of sugary drinks has been linked to about 180,000 deaths worldwide each year, according to research presented at the annual EPI/NPAM event put on by the American Heart Association.
Sugar-sweetened beverages are associated with serious health risks because they can drastically increase body weight, leading to diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. There is also evidence that, beyond the extra calories it delivers, sugar itself contributes to metabolic disorders. Suspect beverages include sodas, sports drinks and fruit drinks.
To arrive at these estimates, researchers analyzed data from the 2010 Global Burden of Diabetes study on sugar-sweetened drink intake around the world and found an association between high-sugar beverages and 180,000 deaths. Of these, 133,000 were related to diabetes, 44,000 were due to cardiovascular disease and 6,000 were caused by cancer.
In the United States alone, about 25,000 deaths were connected to sugar-sweetened drinks, according to study researcher Gitanjali M. Singh, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Researchers also discovered that individuals in different regions were affected in different ways. For instance, the Latin American and the Carribean countries had the most diabetes-related deaths of any place surveyed.
Of the 15 most populous countries in the analysis, Mexico had the highest number of deaths associated with sugary drinks (about 317 deaths for every million adults), while Japan had the lowest at only 10 deaths for every million adults.
The findings will be considered preliminary until they are published in a peer-reviewed journal. However, previous published studies have also connected sugary drinks with health risks.