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Think Twice About Your Soft Drink Consumption

If you drink two or more soft drinks a day, you may want to cut back.

A recent study by the World Health Organization found that people who drink two or more soft drinks a day, even if they are diet sodas with no calories, have a higher risk of mortality than individuals that have one soft drink a month.

The study tracked 451,743 men and women in 10 European countries for 16 years. They joined the study between 1992 and 2000 and researchers followed up with them for an average of 16 years. During that time more than 41,600 deaths were recorded.

The study found that 9.3% of those who drank less than one glass of soft drink a month died during the 16 years they were tracked, compared with 11.5% of those who drank two or more 250 ml glasses a day.

“Our results for sugar-sweetened soft drinks provide further support to limit consumption and to replace them with other healthier beverages, preferably water,” Dr Neil Murphy, a co-author of the research from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, said in a prepared statement.

Here’s what the study found:

  • Two or more diet soft drinks – Higher risk of death from circulatory diseases (stroke, hypertension, heart disease).
  • One or more sugar-sweetened drinks – Higher risk of death from digestive illnesses (like diseases of the liver, appendix, pancreas and intestines).
  • All soft drinks – Greater risk of death from Parkinson’s disease.

Other factors at play?

While the study made no direct correlation between early death and soft drinks, it did find correlation between soft drink consumption and an overall unhealthy lifestyle.

For example, the researchers found that people who drink large quantities of soft drinks typically had a higher body mass index and were also more likely to be smokers.

The researchers also noted that they could not rule out the possibility that the diet soda connection to higher mortality could be due to already unhealthy individuals switching to artificially sweetened soft drinks in an effort to lose weight and improve their health.

The researchers said that when other factors such as body mass index, diet, physical activity, smoking and education were taken into consideration, people who consumed two glasses a day had a 17% higher risk of death compared to people who had less than one soda a month.

One final note

It’s just not just soft drinks that can be problematic. A 2019 study of 13,440 US adults found that people who drank 350 ml of juice had a 24% greater chance of dying during the 11-year study, compared to 11% for daily consumers of soft drinks.