Created on: March 22, 2013
A recent study conducted by Harvard University’s School of Public Health appears to have confirmed what many people already know, but choose to ignore: that too many sugary drinks can have a devastating effect on the body.
According to the study, which was co-funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, sugar-sweetened drinks contribute substantially to the onset of many chronic diseases and may be responsible annually for as many as 183,000 obesity-related deaths worldwide. Of these, 25,000 deaths each year in the United States alone may be attributable to consumption of sweetened beverages, researchers say.
Using data from the World Health Organization’s “Global Burden of Diseases Study” of 2010, the Harvard team linked sugary drinks to 133,000 diabetes deaths, 44,000 deaths from cardiovascular diseases, and 6,000 cancer deaths. Although the United States clearly led the way among industrialized nations, the study shows that more than three-quarters of these deaths occurred in low-to-middle income countries.
Researchers analysed the relationship between sugary-drinks and obesity-related deaths according to various factors, including age and sex. Significantly, they found that Mexico, which has the highest per-capita consumption of sugary beverages, also has the highest death rate due to obesity-related disease (318 deaths per million adults), and Japan, the country with the lowest per-capita consumption of these drinks, has the lowest death rate at 10 deaths per million adults.
Dr. Gitanjali Singh, lead author of the Harvard paper, acknowledges that the study has limitations, but claims that her team’s findings have demonstrated a clear causal link between sugary drinks and “a significant number of deaths.” She says that the results indicate that it is time for “policy makers world-wide to make effective policies to reduce consumption of sugary beverages, such as taxation, mass-media campaigns, and reducing availability of these drinks.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, the report has been met unfavourably by the American Beverage Association. In an unsparingly critical statement, the Association claims that the Harvard study’s methodology is unsound, and that it should be subject to peer-review. It suggests that the study is “more about sensationalism than science. It does not show that consuming sugar-sweetened beverages
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Harvard study reveals links between sugary drinks and obesity-related deaths