Sugary drinks have long been known to be harmful to our health, but in a brave move, a new report has taken an ‘educated guess’ at the global death toll due to these types of beverages.
The study appeared in the latest edition of the Circulation journal, a highly respected publication from the American Heart Association. Its educated guess places the annual death toll caused by consumption of soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks and other sweetened beverages at a touch over 184,000.
It breaks down the numbers of deaths due to sugary drinks in this way:
- Diabetes – 133,000
- Heart disease – 45,000
Cancer – 6,450
“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,” the study’s senior author Dr Dariush Mozaffarian said.
Leading Australian nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton has long been a critic of Australia’s love of sugary drinks, and is a leading member of the Australian Government’s Dietary Guidelines Working Committee.
That committee has recommended that everyone should limit their intake of sugary drinks, and in fact singled out people who are short, inactive or overweight. But not only in drinks. The Australian committee has been recommending since 2003 that we consume only moderate amounts of foods containing added sugar.
Stanton has had this to say about the danger of drinking too many of these type of drinks:
“If you take in calories in liquid form then you don’t eat less of anything, but if you eat a piece of bread you will under most circumstances eat a bit less of something else”,
“This whole problem of obesity and diet is not confined to any single food. It’s just that the evidence is very strong for sugar-sweetened drinks”.
As healthy replacements, Stanton recommends tea and coffee, and of course water.
The other problem with drinking too many sugar-heavy drinks is the danger it poses to your dental health. This I found out in my last dental appointment, with my dentist making particular mention of sports drinks.
Of course the industry body for sugar-based drinks have spoken out against this study.
“Focusing on soft drink consumption alone misses the bigger picture of the causes of chronic diseases,” Australian Beverages Council CEO Geoff Parker told AAP.
What do you think? Have you cut down your consumption of these types of drinks? If yes, was it based on medical advice, or common sense?