If these warm spring afternoons are making you crave a sweet, cool, thirst quencher, think twice—especially when it comes to sugar-sweetened sodas, sports drinks and fruit juices.
A new study of 27,000 people in eight European countries found that those who drank a 12-ounce sugar-sweetened soda daily were 18 percent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes over a 16-year span compared with those who didn't. The research controlled for diabetes risk factors including age, exercise, body mass index (BMI) and total calorie intake. The findings validate earlier studies in the U.S. that found daily soda consumption upped the risk for Type 2 diabetes by 25 percent.
The research stopped short of proving that drinking soda causes Type 2 diabetes, instead showing an association. Researchers say other factors, such as the blood-sugar spike people experience when they drink soda, may play a role. (Read excellent summaries of the European soda study on Huffington Post and in TIME.)
Diabetes isn't the only dangerous disease linked to sugar-sweetened beverages. Several recent studies have also connected sugary drinks to heart disease, cancer, and, of course, obesity. In March, new research presented at an American Heart Association scientific session linked an alarming 180,000 deaths to sugar-sweetened drinks including 133,000 diabetes deaths, 44,000 heart disease deaths and 6,000 cancer deaths.
In the U.S., 25,000 deaths each year are associated with sugar-sweetened drinks. Low- and middle-income countries were hit hardest with deaths linked to overconsumption of sugary beverages.
Globally, here's how the deaths were distributed.
• The most diabetes deaths, 38,000, related to sugary beverages occurred in Latin America and the Caribbean
• East and Central Eurasia recorded the most heart disease-related deaths at 11,000.
• Mexico, which had the highest per-capita consumption of sugary drinks, also had the highest death rate due to sugared beverages at 318 deaths per million adults.
• Japan, had the lowest per-capita consumption of sugary drinks, and also enjoyed the lowest death rate due to the drinks at 10 deaths per million adults.
The American Heart Association recommends adults consume no more than 450 calories per week from sugar-sweetened beverages. Overall, the American Heart Association recommends women have no more than six added teaspoons of sugar a day and men no more than nine teaspoons a day. The Heart Association offers tips to help you make better lifestyle choices and eat healthier.
Visit Wellbody Academy's Cafedium to ride the Sugarburners exercise bike and turn the hand-powered crank to experience for yourself just how long it takes to burn off the 136 calories in a 12-ounce soft drink.
And stay tuned to the Wellbody Blog for refreshing recipe alternatives to sugar-laden beverages.