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Latest Research on Sugary Drinks and Early Death

Sugary drinks are everywhere, and the number and variety of these drinks have only increased. In fact, the highest source of added sugar consumed by Americans comes in the form of sweetened beverages.

We all know that sugary drinks such as juices, sodas, energy drinks, and sugar-sweetened teas and coffees are not great for your health. In fact, most, if not all, are discouraged after bariatric surgery, and for good reason. Due to a number of factors, the overall consumption of sugary beverages has decreased in the United States in recent years, however, this is not the case for adults – those at highest risk for type II diabetes

Recent research published in the Journal Circulation1just a few days ago made the extent of the problem very clear and tangible. Researchers followed over 120,000 men and women in the healthcare field for over three decades. Every four years, these healthcare professionals filled out a questionnaire about their dietary habits, including what they drink and how often. Researchers then accounted for other health risk factors such as alcohol use, physical activity levels, and other lifestyle variables.

The research found that as people drink more sugar-sweetened beverages, their risk of dying during the study period increased. In fact, those who drank 1 to 2 of these beverages per day were 14% more likely to die versus those who drank less than one. Two or more sugary drinks per day increased that risk to 21% versus those who drank less than one. Women were more at risk than men, the study found.

The link between sugary drinks and death from cardiovascular disease was even more apparent with a 31% increase in early death due to cardiovascular disease in respondents that drank two or more sugary drinks per day.

There was also a link between sugary drinks and cancer death, but this was less stark than the risk associated with cardiovascular disease.

Our Take

Type-2 diabetes has been at the forefront of the rise in obesity and the resultant popularity of bariatric surgery. We have known its significant effects for a long time. High, uncontrolled blood sugar, regardless of cause, is a significant public health crisis and is only getting worse. This is why many believe that weight loss surgery can be very effective for those suffering from type-2 diabetes, even if they aren’t obese.

While we have known that sugar causes a host of follow-on problems, this is one of the most comprehensive studies we’ve seen to date. Quantifying the effect of sugar, especially sugary drinks, as it relates to early death helps show the effects of sugar on their body.

Unfortunately, sugar is an addictive substance and it is very difficult to cut out our diets. As a delivery mechanism, sweetened drinks provide our bodies with greater amounts of sugar at a faster rate than, for example, fruits, vegetables or other whole foods that contain sugar naturally.

1 Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. (2019, March 18). Higher consumption of sugary beverages linked with increased risk of mortality. Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/sugary-beverages-linked-with-higher-risk-of-death/