We know sugary drinks like soda are bad for weight management, perpetrators of type 2 diabetes, and—now—death. Um, excuse me? An observational study that was recently published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation found a strong correlation between drinking soda over a long period of time and a heightened risk of death.
Who did this study involve?
The study involved two large cohort studies, each of which involved U.S. adults. One of the cohort groups included men from the Health Professional's Follow-up study, which took place from 1986-2014, while the other one included women from the Nurses' Health study, which took place from 1980-2014. All of the adults considered for this greater observational study were free from chronic disease at the beginning of each cohort study.
What exactly did this study reveal about sugary drinks and longevity?
Researchers discovered that both female and male adults who drank more than two sugary beverages a day experienced a 21 percent increased risk of mortality than those who drank less than one sugary drink a month. Interestingly enough, that increased risk of death was not even close to equivalent between the sexes. For males, the risk of death increased by 12 percent, whereas for women it was increased by over double of that of male's at 25 percent.
The lead author of the study and fellow research scientist in the Department of Nutrition in the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Vasanti Malik, told USA TODAY, "it's not clear what's driving the differences in overall risk of death between men and women who consume sweetened drinks."
"It could simply be the physiological or metabolic differences between men and women," Malik said to USA TODAY. "It could also be something methodological, where women tend to underreport energy intake a little bit more than men."
What's more is that the study revealed that sweetened beverages (like soft drinks, fruit drinks, and sports drinks that have added sweeteners) were associated with a 31 percent increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Who knew that sugar could have that much of impact on your heart health?
How about artificially sweetened drinks?
The study also examined the effects of artificially sweetened beverages, such as diet sodas. While these kinds of drinks eliminate the sugar, the alternative isn't great for overall health. In the study, these types of drinks were associated with a slightly lower risk of mortality. However, another recent study proposed a different issue that's directly correlated with regular consumption of artificially sweetened drinks. According to that study, published in the American Heart Association's journal, Stroke, it found that women 50 and older who drank at least 24 ounces of diet beverages a day had a 23 percent greater risk of stroke than those who drank at most 12 ounces a week.
Final verdict: Drink more water.
Drink water—it's the beverage your body craves and needs the most of, and when you're busy drinking soda and other sweetened drinks, you have less room to hydrate with good ol' H2O. If you have a hankering for a drink that's a bit more exciting than water, opt for seltzer water or sparkling water to satisfy the fizzy craving, or try some kombucha for some gut-healthy probiotics.