A Harvard study published on Monday in the journal Circulation has shown that sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) are linked to risks of premature death, particularly death from cardiovascular diseases.
In the study, researchers analysed data from 80,647 women and 37,716 men, who answered questionnaires about lifestyle factors and health status every two years.
They found that carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks, fruit drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks are the single largest source of added sugar in the U.S. diet.
The more SSBs a person drank, the more risks of early death from any cause increased, according to the study.
It showed that, compared with drinking SSBs less than once per month, drinking one to four sugary drinks per month was linked with one per cent increased risk.
Also, two to six per week with a six per cent increase; one to two per day with a 14 per cent increase, and two or more per day with a 21 per cent increase.
The increased early death risk was more pronounced among women than among men, according to the study.
Those who drank two or more servings per day of SSBs had a 31 per cent higher risk of early death from cardiovascular diseases.
Each additional serving per day of SSBs was linked with a 10 per cent increased higher risk of cardiovascular diseases-related death.
Also, among both men and women, there was a modest link between SSB consumption and early death risk from cancer.
“These findings are consistent with the known adverse effects of high sugar intake on metabolic risk factors.
“And also the strong evidence that drinking SSBs increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, itself a major risk factor for premature death,” said Walter Willett, professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard.