Sugary Drinks Kill Almost as Much as War in Syria Every Year: Study

Sodas and other sugary drinks may cause up to 184,000 deaths a year worldwide, according to a study published Monday in the journal Circulation. This is almost as much as the deaths caused by the Syrian Civil War, which the United Nations put out as being approximately 220,000, although the real figure is probably much higher.

The newly-published report analysed the global risks of death attributed to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancers, linked to the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Deadly sugary drinks

“Many countries in the world have a significant number of deaths occurring from a single dietary factor, sugar-sweetened beverages,” said Dariush Mozaffarian, senior author of the study and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy at Tufts University in Boston. “It should be a global priority to substantially reduce or eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages from the diet.”

Researchers estimated that sugary drinks consumption might be responsible for approximately, 133,000 deaths from diabetes. About 45,000 people died from cardiovascular disease and 6,450 deaths from cancer linked to sweet beverages.

According to Mozaffarian, there are no health benefits from sugary drinks. Rather, “the potential impact of reducing consumption is saving tens of thousands of deaths each year,” he said.

Sugar is bad

Low- or middle-income countries are the worst affected

Data shows that the impact of such beverages varies greatly depending on geographical regions and cultural habits. The two extremes are Japan, where the estimated percentage of deaths was less than 1 percent of citizens over 65 years old, in contrast with Mexico where 30 percent of adults younger than 45 reportedly died because of health conditions caused by sugary drinks.

Mexico ranked first with an estimated 405 deaths per million adults attributable to sugar-sweetened beverages and the U.S. ranked second with an estimated 125 deaths per million adults.

Overall, about 76 percent of the estimated sugary drinks-related deaths occurred in low- or middle-income countries.

Negative economic and social impact

In the long-run, younger adults are the ones risking the most, according to the research. This is particularly worrying as they form a large sector of the workforce in many countries. The negative impact that sugar-sweetened beverages has on younger adults’ health, will in turn generate serious repercussions on the economic potential of this age group.

“If these young people continue to consume high levels as they age, the effects of high consumption will be compounded by the effects of aging, leading to even higher death and disability rates from heart disease and diabetes than we are seeing now,” said Gitanjali Singh, lead author of the study and a research assistant professor at the Friedman School.

Sugary Drinks Kill Almost as Much as War in Syria Every Year- Study

In his movie Food Inc., Director Robert Kenner points out that the food industry blames serious health conditions on a crisis of “personal responsibility”. But sugar is now available 24/7 in tremendous quantities, resulting in people eating “hundreds of pounds of the stuff a year”. Needless to say that this type of diet, high in fructose corn syrup and refined carbohydrates, gradually escalates in a wearing down of the system by which our body metabolizes sugar.

Researchers looked at 62 dietary surveys including 611,971 individuals conducted between 1980 and 2010 across 51 countries, along with data on national availability of sugar in 187 countries and other information. Fruit juices were not included in this study, which analyzed the negative impact of sugary drinks.



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