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Sugary Drinks behind Obesity-Related Deaths: Harvard Study

Mar 20, 2013 09:12 AM EDT
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Sugary drinks can increase weight and along with it, a risk of various obesity-related deaths from diabetes and certain cancers, says a new study based on data from 114 national dietary surveys.

The study found that some 180,000 deaths world over due to diabetes, heart disease and obesity can be linked to high consumption of these sugary drinks, USA Today reported.

The study was conducted by Dr Gitanjali Singh from Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, and team and was presented at the Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions (EPI|NPAM 2013).

For the study, researchers obtained data from 114 national dietary surveys, which represent 60 percent of the world's population. Researchers calculated number of deaths from heart disease, cancer and high BMI from the World Health organization data.

Researchers found that the average consumption of sugary drinks varied significantly, from less than one drink, about 8 oz a day in elderly Chinese women, to more than five drinks or 40 oz a day in younger Cuban men, according to an article from theheart.org. More than 70 percent deaths due to excess consumption of sugary drinks were from low and middle-income countries.

"It is a [surprisingly] large number of deaths-tens of thousands of deaths-that are being caused by consuming sugary beverages," Singh said in an interview.

About three-fourths of the obesity-linked deaths were from diabetes, which "suggests that limiting sugary-beverage intake is an important step in reducing diabetes deaths," she added, reports theheart.org.

Sugary drinks have been blamed for the rise of obesity rates in the U.S. Recently; three large studies have said that sugary drinks increase obesity risk.

The American Beverage Association has said that the study is more about "sensationalism than science".

"This abstract, which is not peer-reviewed nor published in a way where its methodology can be fully evaluated, is more about sensationalism than science.  It does not show that consuming sugar-sweetened beverages causes chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer - the real causes of death among the studied subjects. The researchers make a huge leap when they take beverage intake calculations from around the globe and allege that those beverages are the cause of deaths which the authors themselves acknowledge are due to chronic disease," said American Beverage Association in a statement.

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