Drinking two soft drinks daily linked to higher death risk
LONDON: The World Health Organisation (WHO) study analysed data from more than 450,000 adults across 10 European countries.
Participants had an average age of just over 50, and those with health conditions such as cancer, heart disease or diabetes at the outset were not included in the analysis.
Individuals joined the study between 1992 and 2000 and were then followed up for an average of 16 years, during which time more than 41,600 deaths were recorded.
During the study, participants were asked a number of questions about aspects of their lifestyle such as exercise, smoking and weight as well as diet and nutrition – including their average consumption of fizzy drinks, fruit squash and energy drinks.
The report, which was published in JAMA Internal Medicine, showed that 9.3 per cent of those who drank less than one glass of soft drink a month died during the 16 years the study went on for, compared with 11.5 per cent of those who drank two or more 250ml glasses a day.
The researchers said that when other factors such as body mass index, diet, physical activity, smoking and education were taken into consideration, the figures translated to a 17 per cent higher risk of death among those consuming two glasses a day compared with those drinking less than one glass a month.
The trend was seen for both sugar-sweetened and artificially-sweetened beverages, and similar results were also seen for both men and women.
When the researchers looked at specific causes of death among participants, they found frequent consumption of artificially sweetened soft drinks was associated with a higher risk of death from circulatory diseases.
Meanwhile, sugar-sweetened soft drinks were associated with a higher risk of death from digestive disease.
All soft drinks were also associated with a greater risk of death from Parkinson’s disease.
The scientists explained that while the study does not prove soft drinks are the sole cause of an increased risk of early death, it does bolster recent efforts by the government to reduce the public’s consumption of soft drinks, such as the sugar tax.
“Our results for sugar-sweetened soft drinks provide further support to limit consumption and to replace them with other healthier beverages, preferably water,” said Dr Neil Murphy, a co-author of the research from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the WHO.
Murphy added that more research needs to be done to discover possible reasons why artificial sweeteners might negatively impact health.
“For artificially sweetened soft drinks, ours is the third large study published this year that has reported positive associations with all-cause deaths,” Murphy said.
Earlier this year, a separate study conducted by Emory University suggested that drinking lots of fruit juice could increase a person’s risk of early death just as much as fizzy drinks.
The study involved 13,440 US adults over the age of 45 with no previous heart conditions and followed them for six years on average.
The findings showed that people who drank a daily 350ml glass of juice had a 24 per cent greater chance of dying during the study, compared to an 11 per cent increase among those drinking any daily sugary soft drink.