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The Health Impact of Sugary Drinks

Diane Fennell

March 12, 2010

Researchers have found evidence that the increased consumption of sugary drinks such as sodas and sports drinks in recent years has contributed to thousands of new cases of diabetes and heart disease in the United States. Roughly 24 million people in the US have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, while 80 million Americans are living with heart disease.

Speaking at the American Heart Association’s 50th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention, investigators reported on research conducted using a computer simulation of heart disease known as the Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) Policy Model. The CHD model uses data from major studies looking at heart health, including the Framingham Heart Study and the Nurses Health Study, to predict outcomes such as deaths from heart disease among Americans age 35 and older.

The model indicated that an increase in the consumption of sugary drinks between 1990 and 2000 had contributed to 130,000 new cases of Type 2 diabetes, 14,000 new cases of coronary heart disease, and at least 6,000 excessive deaths over the past decade.

To reduce the consumption of sugary beverages, and thereby decrease the number of cases of associated health conditions, health policy experts have proposed a tax of 1 cent per ounce of sugar-sweetened beverage. This would be expected to decrease consumption of these drinks by 10%. According to lead study author Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, MD, PhD, “If such a tax could curb the consumption of these drinks, the health benefits could be dramatic… We want to make the general public more aware of the adverse health outcomes of consuming these drinks over time.”

For more information, see “Drinking Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Daily Linked to Diabetes” or “Increasing Soda Consumption Fuels Rise in Diabetes, Heart Disease.”

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