Sugary Drinks Kill 180,000 People Per Year


Death by Kool-Aid? Well, maybe not exactly, but a new report from the American Heart Association claims 180,000 death in the world each year can be linked to sugar-sweetened beverages—25,000 in the United States alone. The sweet drinks aren’t poison, per se, but they contribute to excess body weight, which in turn increases the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers.

In preparing its report, the organization collected 2010 data from the Global Burden of Diseases Study, then linked consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages to 133,000 diabetes deaths, 44,000 cardiovascular-disease deaths and 6,000 cancer deaths. Researchers found 78 percent of the deaths related to the overconsumption of sugary drinks occurred in low- and middle-income countries rather than high-income countries.

In the US, our research shows that about 25,000 deaths in 2010 were linked to drinking sugar-sweetened beverages,” said Gitanjali M. Singh, co-author of the study and a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Researchers also found great variance in death by sugary-drinks by country, ranging from 318 deaths per million adults in Mexico to just 10 deaths per million in Japan.

Because we were focused on deaths due to chronic diseases, our study focused on adults. Future research should assess the amount of sugary beverage consumption in children across the world and how this affects their current and future health,” Singh said.

Conditions also varied by world region. Latin America and the Caribbean saw the most death by diabetes with 38,000 deaths related to sugary-drink consumption in 2010, while East/Central Eurasia had the largest number of cardiovascular deaths related to sugary drinks in 2010 with 11,000.

Believe it or not, the American Heart Association recommends adults consume no more than 450 calories from sugar-sweetened beverages per week, based on a 2,000 calorie diet. A 20-ounce bottle of Coke contains 240 calories, so by the time the average adult drinks a second bottle per week, the limit has already been exceeded. And Kool-Aid? Try as much as 100 calories per 7-ounce serving. Maybe the jovial Kool-Aid man need to be replaced with a skull and crossbones.