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Soft drinks kill people!

Updated on August 8, 2015

In 2011, global soft drinks sales reached 609 billion liters, up by 4% over the previous year. And the sale of soft drinks continues to show a steady upwards trend worldwide.

A soft drink is a beverage that typically contains carbonated water, a sweetener and a flavoring. The sweetener may be sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice, sugar substitutes in diet drinks or some combination of these. Soft drinks may also contain caffeine, colorings, preservatives and other ingredients. In addition, soft drinks may contain alcohol but alcohol content must be less than 0.5% of the total volume. Otherwise, it will not be considered a non-alcoholic drink.

Consumption of sugary drinks may lead to an estimated 184,000 adult deaths each year worldwide, according to research published June 2015 in the journal Circulation and previously presented as an abstract at the American Heart Association Council on Epidemiology and Prevention in 2013.

In 2010, the researchers estimate that sugar-sweetened beverages consumption may have been responsible for approximately:

• 133,000 deaths from diabetes

• 45,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease

• 6,450 deaths from cancer

According to the researchers, sugar sweetened beverages were defined as any sugar-sweetened sodas, fruit drinks, sports/energy drinks, sweetened iced teas, or homemade sugary drinks such as frescas, that contained at least 50 kcal per 8oz serving. 100 percent fruit juice was excluded.

Furthermore, soft drinks provide lot of calories with no significant nutritional value. Though scientific evidence is less developed, the experts are of the opinion across the board that frequent consumption of soft drinks has serious detrimental effects on health. Some of the detriments to the health caused by frequent consumption of sugar sweetened soft drinks are listed below.

Their frequent consumption may:

Cause diabetes – There exists strong evidence that sugar-sweetened soft drinks contribute to the development of diabetes. It has been found that people, who consume sugary drinks regularly—1 to 2 cans a day or more—have a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people, who rarely have such drinks.

A recent analysis of 17 previous studies reveals that whether you are slim or obese, if you drink lots of sugary soda or other sweetened drinks you are more likely to develop type-2 diabetes. This new study removed weight as a factor, and still found that every daily serving of sugar-sweetened beverages increases any person's risk of type 2 diabetes by 13 percent over 10 years. Nonetheless, the researchers said they could not recommend diet drinks or fruit juices as healthier options than sugary sodas.

Cause overweight and obesity – People, who drink lot of sugar sweetened beverages, often tend to weigh more because they consume more calories. Moreover, such people also eat less healthfully.

Dr. Frank Hu, Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, recently made a strong case that there is sufficient scientific evidence that decreasing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption will reduce the prevalence of obesity and obesity-related diseases.

Cause heart disease – There is strong evidence indicating that there is a close association between consumption of sweetened beverages and heart disease. The Nurses’ Health Study, which tracked the health of nearly 90,000 women over two decades, found that women, who drank more than two servings of sugary beverage each day, had a 40 percent higher risk of heart attacks or death from heart disease than women, who rarely drank sugary beverages. The researchers also found that having a healthy diet, or being at a healthy weight, only slightly diminished the risk associated with drinking sugary beverages.

Simply, weighing more and taking too many calories may partly explain the relationship between sugary drinks and heart disease. The metabolic effects of fructose from the sugar or high fructose corn syrup, used to sweeten these beverages, also add to the risk.

Raise risk of gout – There is convincing evidence that sweetened soft drinks cause gout. It has been found that two or more soft drinks each day upped gout risk by 85%; one soft drink each day upped gout risk by 45%; and five or six soft drinks each week upped gout risk by 29%. However, diet sodas don’t affect gout risk.

A 22-year-long study of 80,000 women found that those who consumed a can a day of sugary drink had a 75% higher risk of gout than women, who rarely had such drinks. Researchers found a similarly-elevated risk in men.

Mostly, it is thought that purine rich foods such as meats, organ meat, fish and sea food etc. increase gout risk because they feed directly into the uric acid pathway. But, usually, we don’t think that fructose of high fructose soft drinks, processed by the liver, can also affect that pathway.

Raise risk of osteoporosis – There is no consensus of opinion of experts about the direct link of consumption of soft drinks to causation of osteoporosis. But individuals, who drink a lot of soft drinks, aren’t going to drink as much nutritious liquids as others do, because one cannot consume liquids beyond a certain volume each day.

In a study, the researchers at Tufts University, studying several thousand men and women, found that women, who regularly drank cola-based sodas -- three or more a day --, had almost 4% lower bone mineral density in the hip, even though researchers controlled for calcium and vitamin D intake. But women, who drank non-cola soft drinks like Sprite or Mountain Dew, didn't appear to have lower bone density. Similar results were seen for diet cola and, although weaker, for decaffeinated cola. It is found that total phosphorus intake is not significantly higher in daily cola consumers than in non-consumers. However, calcium to phosphorus ratio is also lower. Nonetheless, additional research is needed to confirm these findings.

Affect oral health – Increased soft drink consumption is one of several leading causes of tooth decay. Carbonation, sugar and acids in soft drinks weaken tooth enamel and encourage the growth of bacteria that contribute to tooth decay. This doesn’t mean a person should never take soft drink. In fact, drinking it in moderation may represent no harm. However, substituting sugary, acidic carbonated beverages for water or intake of caloric food could be problematic in the long run.

Increase risk of cancer – A new study warns that people, who consume one or more cans of cold drinks per day, are exposing themselves to a potential carcinogen. The potential carcinogen is the ingredient 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI), which is formed during the manufacture of some kinds of caramel color. Caramel color is a common ingredient in colas and other dark soft drinks. It is significant to know that 4-MEI is being added to these beverages simply for aesthetic purposes.

Raise risk of kidney stones – In a new study, the researchers found that those, who drank one or more servings of sugar-sweetened soda daily, had a 23 percent higher risk for kidney stones than those, who drank less than one serving per week. The study showed that this also was true for those, who drank sugary beverages other than soda such as fruit punch. So, this adds one more reason to many others to cut down the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages.

Disturb healthy gut bacteria - A much-buzzed-about study published in the journal Nature found that non-caloric sweeteners such as saccharin, sucralose, and aspartame may mess with the gut bacteria that play a key role in healthy metabolism. Such sugar substitute sweeteners are commonly used in diet drinks.

The bottom line -

So, in view of the above detrimental effects of consumption of sweetened beverages, it is of paramount importance for people to reduce their intake so as to avoid these detriments. In general, everyone should always remember the following for sake of one’s health:

  • Take plenty of water in place of sugary drinks like cordial, energy drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks, vitamins style waters, flavored mineral waters and soft drinks.
  • Drinks containing added sugars are not required for good health, and may increase the risk of weight gain in children and adults
  • If looking for an energy boost during or after exercise, reach for some fruit such as mandarins, melon wedges, bananas or cut oranges and water.

An occasional consumption of sweetened soft drinks will not harm a person. But, if one remembers the above counsel as well as the likelihood of causation of many detriments to health by the consumption of sweetened soft drinks, one will undoubtedly reduce one’s consumption of sugary beverages.


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    • Dr Pran Rangan profile image

      Dr Pran Rangan 2 years ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      Thanks for your valuable comments. It is really a healthy way to snack with pure fruit juice and nuts.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 2 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      This is a article I need to share around to warn people. I NEVER drink any soft drink, but what I do mix is sparkle water and pure fruit juice in a wine glass in the evenings together with a bowl of nuts.

    • Dr Pran Rangan profile image

      Dr Pran Rangan 2 years ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      Thanks The Stages Of ME for your encouraging comments and liking my hub.

      Thanks 4FoodSafety for nice comments and liking my hub

      Thanks Dana for your valuable comments.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 2 years ago from LOS ANGELES

      I used to love sodas, still do. After finding out they are not good for you, I have learned to drink them in moderation.

    • 4FoodSafety profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 2 years ago from Fontana, WI

      Sugar needs to be properly labelled on every food package! Consumers need to demand this! Great hub - vital information. Thank you!

    • The Stages Of ME profile image

      The Stages Of ME 2 years ago

      Whoa yikes, great information and needs to be shared. Thanks for the info and wonderful hub. Looking forward to more, have a great day!

    • Dr Pran Rangan profile image

      Dr Pran Rangan 2 years ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      Thanks for appreciating my hub.

    • emge profile image

      Madan 2 years ago from Abu Dhabi

      Interesting informafion