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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Harvard: Higher Consumption of Sugary Beverages Linked with Increased Risk of Mortality

The more sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) people consumed, the greater their risk of premature death — particularly death from cardiovascular disease, and to a lesser extent from cancer, according to a large long-term study of U.S. men and women. The risk of early death linked with drinking SSBs was more pronounced among women.

The study, led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, also found that drinking one artificially sweetened beverage (ASB) per day instead of a sugary one lowered the risk of premature death. But drinking four or more ASBs per day was associated with increased risk of mortality in women.

The study was published March 18, 2019 in the journal Circulation.

“Our results provide further support to limit intake of SSBs and to replace them with other beverages, preferably water, to improve overall health and longevity,” said Dr. Vasanti Malik, research scientist in the Department of Nutrition and lead author of the study.

Studies have shown that SSBs — carbonated and noncarbonated soft drinks, fruit drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks — are the single largest source of added sugar in the U.S. diet. Although SSB consumption in the U.S. has been dropping over the past decade, there’s been a recent uptick among adults, with intake levels from SSBs alone nearly exceeding the dietary recommendation for consuming no more than 10 percent of daily calories from added sugars. SSB intake is also on the rise in developing countries, spurred by urbanization and beverage marketing, according to the authors.

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