Sugary drinks could raise risk of early deaths finds study

A new study has revealed that sugary drinks or drinks that are artificially sweetened (SSB or sugar sweetened beverages) are bad for heart health. Drinking two or more of these drinks per day can lead to a 31 percent raised risk of early death due to heart disease explain the researchers.

Image Credit: Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock
Image Credit: Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

The risk rises by 10 percent with each sugary drink, soda or sports drink, they add. The results of the study titled, “Long-Term Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened and Artificially Sweetened Beverages and Risk of Mortality in US Adults” were published in the latest issue of the journal Circulation.

The researchers have found that sugar drink consumption has reduced among Americans over the last few decades but the risk from sodas and sports drinks remain. These drinks are the single largest source of daily sugar intake in an average American they write. For this study the team looked at two studies. A total of 37,716 males (part of the Health Professionals Follow-up Study between 1986 and 2014) and 80,647 females (part of the Nurses’ Health Study between 1980 and 2014) were part of the study analyses. They were all followed up for a period of two to three decades. The lifestyle choices of these participants, diet, exercise and general health was all recorded.

Results revealed that the participants who drank one or two of these sugary drinks per day had a 14 percent raised risk of early death due to heart disease. When the numbers rose to over 2 per day the risk rose by 21 percent, they write. They found the risk of death among women rose with four or more such drinks per day. The authors wrote, “...the increased early death risk linked with SSB consumption was more pronounced among women than among men”. They add that there was a “particular strong link” between SSBs and increased risk of early death from heart disease.

The American Heart Association has come up with recommendations on artificially sweetened beverages saying that these should be reduced in the diet and that water was the healthiest beverage to consume. Vasanti Malik, Sc.D., lead author of this study and research scientist in the Department of Nutrition in the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, in a statement said, “Drinking water in place of sugary drinks is a healthy choice that could contribute to longevity. Diet soda may be used to help frequent consumers of sugary drinks cut back their consumption, but water is the best and healthiest choice.”

Malik said in statement, “The big picture is really starting to emerge.” She said, “This is not random. There's a whole lot of consistency across these findings.”

The American Beverage Association (ABA) in response to the study said in a statement that soft drinks are “safe to consume as part of a balanced diet” and the sugar they used was same as that found in food products. The statement said, “We don't think anyone should overconsume sugar, that's why we're working to reduce the sugar people consume from beverages across the country.”

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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