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A new study shows that sugary drinks are so much more than a guilty indulgence. They kill. In fact, they kill an shocking amount of people every year.

Sugary beverages like soda and energy drinks are bad for you. You already knew that. There's lots of sugar in them, for one — generally between 24 to 29 grams (100 to 110 kcal) per 8-ounce serving, but also sometimes more. Then, there's the phosphoric acid, which interferes with calcium absorption. And often aspartame, a sugar substitute that's really not good for you, as well as caffeine, too much of which can be damaging too. What sugary drinks decidedly do not have is any nutritional value. 

None of that is news to you, of course, but this shocking fact might be: sugary drinks kill an estimated 184,000 adults a year on a global level, according to a recent study.

Sugary Drinks Are Much More Dangerous Than You Thought

The study, published in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation, used evidence from previous meta-analyses on the health impact of sugary-drink consumption, and was the first to look into global deaths resulting from sugary drink consumption. The research team used data from 62 dietary surveys conducted in 51 different countries, in which a total of 611,971 adults participated between 1980 and 2010. In addition, they looked at many different factors, including the national availability of sugar in 187 countries. The team did not look at the effects of drinks labeled as 100 percent juice. 

The resarch team found that sugary drinks, including soda, energy drinks, and sweetened ice teas, were linked to:

  • 133,000 diabetes-related deaths,
  • 45,000 cardiovascular disease deaths,
  • and 6,450 cancer deaths.

Why Is This Happening? And Where?

Why are so many people dying as an indirect result of a sugary drink habit? To senior study author Dr Dariush Mozaffarian, who is also dean of Tuft University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, the answer is easy. "This is not complicated," he said, continuing: "There are no health benefits from sugar-sweetened beverages, and the potential impact of reducing consumption is saving tens of thousands of deaths each year."

Where are sugary drinks most likely to kill? Mexico, which has been in the news in relation to its high obesity rate an awful lot over the last few years, is one of the worst culprits. Since Mexico also has one of the world's higherst rates of per-capita consumption of sugary drinks, its not all that surprising that they also have the highest sugary-drink related death rate: 405 deaths per million adults, which amounts to a total of 24,000 people. The US, where 125 deaths per million adults were attributed to sugary drinks, had a total sugary-drink related death toll of 25,000.

Since young people are more likely than older people to have formed sugary-drink habits, the study authors worry that the death rate is only going to be rising in the future. Study co-author Dr Gitanjali Singh pointed out: "If these young people continue to consume high levels as they age, the effects of high consumption will be compounded by the effects of ageing, leading to even higher death and disability rates from heart disease and diabetes than we are seeing now."

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