Soft Drinks, Including Sugar-Free, Linked To Increased Risk of Early Death

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: People who regularly consume soft drinks have a higher risk of an early death, researchers have found, with the trend seen for both sugared and artificially sweetened drinks. While experts say the study cannot prove soft drinks are a driver of an increased risk of death, they say the work — which is the largest study of its kind — supports recent public health efforts to reduce consumption of soft drinks, such as the UK’s sugar tax. Writing in the journal Jama Internal Medicine, Dr Neil Murphy, a co-author of the research from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and colleagues report how they analyzed data from more than 450,000 people, 70% of whom were women, across 10 European countries including the UK. 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.

When participants signed up they 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 drinks such as fizzy drinks, fruit squash and energy drinks. Fruit juice consumption was not included. The results show 9.3% of those who drank less than one glass of soft drink a month died during the study, compared with 11.5% of those who drank two or more 250ml glasses a day. The team say that once factors such as body mass index, diet, physical activity, smoking and education were taken into account, that translates to a 17% higher risk of death among those consuming two glasses a day compared with those drinking less than one glass a month.