Food for Thought
Two recent research studies are fairly damning for sugar-sweetened beverages’ impact on health and well-being.
An unpublished study presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions showed that sugar-sweetened beverages may be linked to about 180,000 deaths in the world each year. Using data from the 2010 Global Burden of Diseases Study, researchers connected intake of sugar-sweetened beverages to 133,000 diabetes deaths, 44,000 deaths from cardiovascular diseases and 6,000 cancer deaths. Seventy-eight percent of these deaths were in low- and middle-income countries. Caribbean and Latin American countries had among the highest death rates from diabetes due to sugary-beverage consumption.
“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, PhD, co-author of the study and a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
The bottomless sugary-beverage refill used to seem like a good idea economically, but in the long run it may cost consumers much more in health dollars and quality of life. Research published online April 24 in Diabetologia (doi: 10.1007/s00125-013-2899-8) showed that risk of type 2 diabetes increased by 22% for people drinking one extra 12-ounce sugar-sweetened drink (e.g., drinking one beverage versus none or drinking two versus one).
Data on consumption of juices and nectars, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and artificially sweetened soft drinks was collected from eight European cohorts taking part in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition; this study drew on data from a subset of about 28,500 participants.
The risk of diabetes among sugar-sweetened soft-drink consumers in Europe was similar to that found in a meta-analysis of previous studies conducted mostly in North America (this analysis described a 25% higher risk of type 2 diabetes associated with one 12-ounce daily increment of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption), said the authors.