Blog » Health and Wellbeing » Killer Cola and Lethal Lemonade - Sugar drinks and health

Killer Cola and Lethal Lemonade - Sugar drinks and health

For many of us, sugary drink consumption is a fairly regular occurrence, whether it is in your vodka coke at the pub on the weekend or glass of lemonade on a hot day. Medical experts are now warning however that sugar drinks are killing as many as 184,000 adults in the world each year and so we ask are you drinking killer coke, or lethal lemonade? The research1, published in the American Heart Association’s Circulation Journal states that in 2010, an estimated 133,000 deaths were from diabetes, 45,000 from cardiovascular disease, and 6,450 from cancer, with these deaths being attributed to sugar-sweetened beverages. The research’s lead author Dr Dariush Mozaffarian stated that: “It should be a global priority to substantially reduce or eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages from the diet”. The research is the first global report assessing deaths that can be attributed to sugar-sweetened drinks which include fizzy, sport and sweetened iced tea drinks. It showed there were no health benefits to sugar-sweetened drinks and that reducing consumption could save tens of thousands of lives each year. The study conducted 62 dietary surveys from 611,971 people between 1980 and 2010 capturing geographical, gender and age variation and allowing the researchers to calculate the impact on diabetes and obesity-related effects on diabetes, cancer and cardio-vascular disease2. Impacts of sugar-sweetened drinks varied between populations. Sugary drinks had less than a 1% impact on the Japanese over 65 year olds, yet Mexican adults under 45 had a 30% impact. Mexico had the highest death rate attributable to sugar-sweetened beverages with an estimated 405 deaths per million adults and the U.S, land of the twinky came in second place with 125 per million. The percentage of chronic disease that could be attributed to sugar-sweetened drinks was higher in younger adults than older adults. The research concluded that: “If these young people continue to consume high levels as they age, the effects of high consumption will be compounded by the effects of aging, lead to even higher death and disability rates from heart disease and diabetes”. There are those who disagree with the research however, and the Australian Beverages Council CEO Geoff Parker stated that the report was “scaremongering” and that “In no way does the study show that soft drink consumption is a unique cause of diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer”3. He also states that the Global Burden of Disease Study of 2010 suggests obesity, smoking, poor diet and low physical activity levels are bigger causes of mortality and that sugar-sweetened drinks are ranked fairly low in comparison. We all indulge in drinks that are bad for us in excess sometimes, be it alcohol or sugar drinks and as with everything, moderation is probably the key! If you wake up early and drink Coke as soon as you get up, use Fanta as mouthwash and constantly drink Lemonade until you go to bed where you dream of Dr Pepper, you’re probably consuming too many sugary drinks! If you occasionally have a glass or two and generally lead an active and healthy lifestyle however, it’s unlikely to cause long term damage! So no, the Coke isn’t a killer, the Lemonade isn’t lethal and the Tango isn’t toxic! 1 - Singh GM, Micha R, Khatibzadek S, Lim S, Ezzati M, and Mozaffarian, D.Estimated Global, Regional, and National Disease Burdens Related to Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption in 2010. Circulation, June 2015 DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.010636 2 - 3 -