Did you know that sugary drinks cause over 184,000 deaths worldwide per year? Learn more about the study carried out by researchers at Tufts University.
Death Toll Of Soda & Sugary Drinks
In a revised study led by researcher Gitanjali Singh at Tufts University, it was found that sugary drinks cause over 184,000 deaths worldwide, with the causes of death being from obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. 133,000 deaths occur a year from type 2 diabetes; 45,000 from heart disease; and, 6,450 from cancer. In studies carried out in previous years, it was found that sugar is the leading contributor to obesity and that obesity-related deaths number to 17 million a year. While researchers cannot say that sugar is the direct cause of these deaths, their study relied on variables such as national beverage consumption trends, death rates and the availability of sugar in each country. These variables then led them to conclude that the consumption of sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup result in hundreds of thousands of obesity-related deaths worldwide.
Obesity has become the second leading cause of preventable deaths, following closely behind tobacco, and is a disease that has spurred campaigns such as The Campaign To End Obesity in the UK, the Let's Move campaign developed by First Lady, Michelle Obama, Strong4Life, and many others. Each campaign centers on exploring the issue of childhood obesity as well as long-term solutions to healthy eating, regimented exercise and a happier, more conscious lifestyle.
Let's explore what researchers defined as “sugary drinks” and their effects on the human body.
The Definition of Sugary Drinks And Their Effects On The Human Body
For this study, sugary drinks were defined as those containing sweeteners such as cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and beet sugar. Beverages like iced teas, sports drinks, sodas, flavored waters, and fruit drinks are considered to be “sugary drinks.” The beverages with the highest sugar content are Hype energy drinks, McDonald's Mocha Frappes, Minute Maid Cranberry Grape, Sunkist Orange Soda, Fanta Orange, Newman's Own Limeade, Sobe Adrenaline Rush, Mountain Dew, Snapple, and Capri Sun.
For a full list of beverages with high sugar content, click here and here.
Is sugar really that bad for you? If so, how? And are there other more “acceptable” forms of sugar?
When sugar is consumed, the body can only do two things with it: burn it off for energy or store it in your fat cells for later. Depending on your body (everyone is different), you can either process sugar easily and burn it off, or store it (this also depends on your metabolism and level of physical activity).
When sugar is stored, the effects it can have on your body are:
- weight gain
- organ weight gain
- rapid aging
- tense blood vessels
- increase in cholesterol levels and triglyceride blood fats
- sugar addiction
- depleted energy
- and so much more
Doctor's recommendations are simple: eat less sugar. But how do we do that? Sugar is everywhere! Not only is it in beverages, it's in foods like ketchup, yogurt, frozen meals, bread, tortillas, energy bars, salad dressings, everything!
Easy ways to consume less sugar are:
- read the labels
- learn the various names for sugar by referring to this chart (no.12)
- limit the amount of sweets you eat – an obvious one that we sometimes forget
- buy unsweetened
- eat more proteins and fat – another reason why breakfast is the most important meal of the day is because it decreases your risk of consuming sugar later on in the day. Stick to protein- and fat-rich meals such as hard boiled eggs, avocado, turkey breast, or chia pudding.
- stay away from artificial sweeteners – sugar alcohols are still processed as sugar!
- get 7-9 hours of sleep a night – studies show that lack of sleep increases your cravings for high-calorie foods.
- eat more fruit – while fruits do contain sugar in the form of fructose, they also contain fiber, nutrients, minerals and vitamins that help your body process sugar at a slower pace.
Alternative Forms of Sugar
Are there alternative forms of sugar that are good for you? There are, but those are naturally occurring sugars found in fruits, honey and stevia. While agave nectar is a plant-based sweetener, it's also processed in the same way high-fructose corn syrup is meaning any benefits it may have had were lost during refinement.
Aside from being delicious, honey also possesses several medicinal qualities that make it an acceptable alternative to sugar. Some of the benefits of honey are that it is anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory (making it a great cleanser for those with acne-prone skin), boosts memory, suppresses cough, can aid in sleep, alleviates allergies, and more.
Stevia is relatively new on the American sugar scene, but has been consumed by countries such as Japan and South America with no adverse effects. Stevia is a naturally occurring sweetener derived from plants that is 300x sweeter than sugar. It comes in both liquid and powder form.
Fruits are unsung heroes! As mentioned above, while they do contain sugar, fruits also contain fiber and other vitamins and minerals that make it easier for the body to process sugar, as well as providing nutritional benefits to the consumer.
Now that the causes of obesity and its related deaths have been identified – sugary beverages, fast food, lack of exercise – the power to change our future lies in our hands; it's up to us to make a difference, so let's start voting with our fork and demanding foods that are low in sugar, all natural and beneficial to our well-being.
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- GMO Foods & Their Health Risks
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