A new study looking at hundreds of thousands of individuals has linked higher consumption of soft drinks with greater risk of premature death. The researchers saw that the association held for both artificially and sugar sweetened drinks.
Because the findings are that of an observational study, they do not prove that regular soft drink consumption drives early death. However, the research team concludes that the results endorse health initiatives to reduce public consumption of such beverages.
A recent paper in JAMA Internal Medicine describes how the international study group analyzed data on 451,743 adults from 10 European countries.
On enrolment, the participants gave information about their food and drink consumption, either by filling in questionnaires or in interviews.
Their average age was 51 years old, and 71% were female. None had heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or stroke at the outset.
Of the participants taking part in the analysis, 41,693 died during a follow-up that averaged 16.4 years and ranged from 11.
1 years in Greece to 19.2 years in France.
Fruit juice not among the ‘soft drinks’
The researchers compared deaths during the follow-up in those who said that they drank soft drinks every day with those who said that they consumed hardly any — that is fewer than one glass per month.
The team defined one glass as 250 milliliters (8.5 fluid ounces).
Soft drink consumption included drinking of fizzy soft drinks such as cola and lemonade; isotonic or energy drinks; diet and low-calorie soft fizzy drinks; and diluted syrups, such as fruit cordial or squash. Soft drink consumption did not include fruit juice.
Their analysis revealed that consuming two or more glasses per day of total, sugar sweetened, and artificially sweetened soft drinks was linked to a higher risk of death from all causes in comparison to consuming hardly any soft drinks.
The team observed the link in both males and females.
At the study outset, the participants also answered questions about their health and lifestyle.
From this information, the researchers were able to rule out any influence from factors such as physical activity, body mass index (BMI), education, smoking, and diet.
A further analysis also revealed that in comparison to consuming hardly any, drinking two or more glasses per day of artificially sweetened soft drinks was tied to a higher risk of circulatory diseases.
In the cases of sugar sweetened soft drinks, the link was to a higher risk of death from digestive diseases.