New research reveals that drinking sugary soft drinks is responsible for close to 180,000 deaths worldwide every year. The finding comes from research presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions.

Consuming drinks with lots of sugar is associated with serious health risks as it can drastically increase a person’s body weight, which can lead to diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Even the company Coca-Cola, the most powerful and well known soft drinks company in the world, addressed the link between sugary drink consumption and weight gain.

The researchers analyzed data published in the 2010 Global Burden of Diabetes Study and found an association between the intake of sugary drinks and 180,000 deaths, of which 133,000 were diabetes related, 44,000 were due to cardiovascular diseases and 6,000 were due to cancer. Most of these deaths occurred in low and middle-income countries.

According to Gitanjali M. Singh, Ph.D., co-author of the study and a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Mass: “In the U.S., our research shows that about 25,000 deaths in 2010 were linked to drinking sugar-sweetened beverages.”

Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean had the highest number of diabetes deaths due to consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks (38,000). The highest number of cardiovascular deaths due to sugary beverage consumption was in East and Central Eurasia (11,000).

Mexico had the highest death rate due to consuming sugary drinks. Sugary drink consumption in Mexico was linked to around 318 deaths per million.

On the other hand, in Japan only 10 deaths per million were linked to sugar drink consumption. It is the country which, per-capita, consumes the fewest sugary drinks in the world.

According to the American Heart Association, adults shouldn’t consume more than 450 calories from sugary drinks, per week. However, many consume far more than that, in fact, a previous study identified that people ages 20 to 39 who drink sugary beverages consume around 336 calories a day from them alone.

Singh concluded:

“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.”

Over the past thirty years, the global consumption of sugary beverages has shot up considerably. A previous report, published by The Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, said that sugary drinks are the number one source of calories among American adolescents.

This is quite a serious public health concern, especially consdering that people who drink sugary drinks on a regular basis are genetically more susceptible to becoming obese or overweight.

Written by Joseph Nordqvist