Consumption of drinks that are high in sugar content leads to diabetes, heart disease and cancers. Globally 184,000 adults die each year, according to a new study.
A report on the impact of sugar-sweetened beverages, researchers estimated deaths and disabilities caused by diabetes, heart disease and cancers in 2010.
In a study, sugar-sweetened beverages were defined as fizzy drinks, fruit drinks, sports/energy drinks, sweetened ice teas or homemade sugary drinks that contained at least 50 kcal per 8oz serving. Pure fruit juice was excluded.
"Among the 20 countries with the highest estimated sugar-sweetened beverage-related deaths, at least eight were in Latin America and the Caribbean, reflecting the high intakes in that region of the world," said lead author Gitanjali Singh, an Indian-American assistant professor at Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy in Tufts University.
Mexico has the highest death rate attributable to sugar-sweetened beverages with an estimated 405 deaths per million adults (24,000 total deaths). The US ranked second with an estimated 125 deaths per million adults (25,000 total deaths).
The researchers analyzed 62 dietary surveys including 611,971 people, conducted between 1980 and 2010 across 51 countries, along with data on national availability of sugar in 187 countries and other information.
The researchers said that sugar-sweetened beverages were implicated in 133,000 deaths from diabetes, 45,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease, and 6,450 deaths from cancer.
The impact of sugar-sweetened beverages varied greatly between populations. The estimated percentage of deaths was less than one percent in Japanese over 65 years old, but 30 percent in Mexican adults younger than 45.
Around 76 percent of the estimated sugar-sweetened beverage related deaths occurred in low or middle income countries.
"The health impact of sugar-sweetened beverage intake on the young is important because younger adults form a large sector of the workforce in many countries, so the economic impact of sugar-sweetened beverage-related deaths and disability in this age group can be significant," said Singh.
The study was outlined in the journal Circulation.