The Easter Bunny and Spring Blessings. [Photo provided to China Daily]
Many sugar-sweetened beverages have little to no nutritional value and lots of calories, and their harmful health effects have been well-documented. Now, a study links drinking too many sugary beverages -- and even 100% natural fruit juices -- to an increased risk of early death.
Specifically, drinking an excessive amount of fruit juice could lead to an increased risk of premature death ranging from 9% to 42%, according to the study, published Friday in the journal JAMA Network Open.
Overall, the sugars found in orange juice, although naturally occurring, are pretty similar to the sugars added to soda and other sweetened beverages, the study suggests.
"Sugary beverages, whether soft drinks or fruit juices, should be limited," Jean A. Welsh, a co-author of the study and an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University in Atlanta, wrote in an email.
Seven US cities, including New York and most recently Philadelphia, have levied taxes on sweetened drinks with added sugar in an effort to reduce consumption.
The new study defined "sugary beverages" as both sugar-sweetened thirst-quenchers, like soda and fruit-flavored infusions, and 100% natural fruit juices that have no added sugar. So how does fruit juice stack up against soda?
"Previous research has shown that high consumption of sugars like those in soft drink and fruit juices is linked to several cardiovascular disease risk factors," Welsh explained.
Obesity, diabetes and elevated triglycerides (a type of fat found in the blood) are among the risk factors linked to excessive sugar intake. "Few studies have been able to look at how this consumption might impact mortality risk," she said.
Coca-Cola is diversifying its product range in China by introducing more healthy and functional products. [Photo/IC]
Welsh and her coauthors analyzed data from 13,440 adults 45 and older, nearly 60% men and almost 71% of them overweight or obese.
People who consumed 10% or more of their daily calories as sugary beverages had a 44% greater risk of dying due to coronary heart disease and a 14% greater risk of an early death from any cause compared with people who consumed less than 5% of their daily calories as sugary beverages, the study showed.
Each additional 12-ounce serving of fruit juice per day was associated with a 24% higher risk of death from any cause, and each additional 12-ounce serving of sugary beverages per day was associated with an 11% higher risk.