London – Sugary drinks kill as many as 184 000 adults each year, scientists claim.
Fizzy soft drinks, fruit drinks, energy drinks and sweetened iced teas are causing thousands of deaths and have no health benefits, they said.
And they warned that governments across the world should make it a priority to eliminate such drinks from people’s diets.
Researchers said sugary drinks were to blame for 133 000 diabetes deaths worldwide in one year. Another 45 000 died from cardiovascular disease and 6 450 from cancer. They said 1 316 people died as a result of drinking sweetened drinks in the UK – the 28th worst rate of death in a list of 51. Top was Mexico, where 30 percent of adult deaths under 45 were attributed to sugary drinks, while Japan was lowest with one percent.
Kawther Hashem, a nutritionist from the campaign group Action on Sugar, said: “More evidence is showing the alarming impact of sugary drinks on our health, the healthcare service and the economy. It is time these huge profit-making drinks companies took to reformulating their products with less sugar.”
The study looked at sodas, fruit drinks, sports or energy drinks, sweetened iced teas and homemade sugary drinks that contained at least 50 calories per 240ml. A can of Coca-Cola contains 101 calories per 240ml or 139 overall.
Dariush Mozaffarian, from Tufts University, Boston, and a senior author of the study, said the focus should be on cutting the drinks out of diets in order to save lives.
“It should be a global priority to substantially reduce or eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages from the diet,” he said.
“Some population dietary changes, such as increasing fruits and vegetables, can be challenging due to agriculture, costs, storage, and other complexities. This is not complicated.
“There are no health benefits from sugar-sweetened beverages, and the potential impact of reducing consumption is saving tens of thousands of deaths each year.”
Researchers, whose findings were published in the journal Circulation, examined 611 971 deaths from 1989 to 2010. Younger adults were more dramatically affected than older people. Gitanjali Singh, who also helped write the study, said: “If these young people continue to consume high levels as they age, the effects of high consumption will be compounded by the effects of ageing, leading to even higher death and disability rates from heart disease and diabetes than we are seeing now.”
Mexico had 405 deaths from sugary drinks per million adults in 2010 – about three times greater than the US, which had an estimated 125 deaths per million.
About 76 percent of the overall deaths were in low or middle-income countries.
The popularity of sugary drinks in the Caribbean and Latin America was reflected in the fact that eight countries from the region were among the 20 worldwide with the highest death rates.