Lethal Gulps

By Dean L. Jones

Global medical journals are revealing how processed sugary sodas, energy drinks, and sugar-sweetened iced teas can be linked to as many as 184,000 adult deaths each year worldwide. Even if this number was 184, to me this would be crazy, but when you learn that nearly 200k people are dying just from drinking soda should make it a huge wake up call for one and all.

In 2010 sugary drinks were at least partially responsible for the death of more than 180,000 people (133,000 deaths from diabetes, 45,000 from cardiovascular diseases and more than 6,000 from cancer). Such added sugar-sweetened drink product studies and reports have ignited a number of doctors and health researchers into developing more regulations and bans against sugary beverages. One doctor claims that it is time to remove sugary beverages from the food supply mainly because it has no intrinsic health value.

Nonetheless, a problem with this is how it deflects the center of attention from lethal consumption of processed sugar to solely sugary drink products. The thing that really gets overlooked when you get alarmed about deaths is the other numerous health impacts that excessive sugar consumption will lead to obesity-related diseases, causing more than 17 million deaths per year, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, gallstones, joint disease, etc.

It remains the ingredients, not the final product, as disappointedly, there are thousands of foodstuff items that are laden with processed sugar. However the difference is that the advertising and marketing exposure is far greater for soda beverages over other that of other sugary items.

Mexico is at the top with more than 10% of the population having diabetes. Mexico is experiencing 405 deaths per million adults, equal to 24,000 total deaths. The United States is just below Mexico in processed sugary drink caused deaths. The U.S. is experiencing an estimated 125 deaths per million adults, or 25,000 total deaths per year.

Mexicans highly believe in Coca Cola as a priority beverage to consume, which makes it no wonder how roughly 30% of the deaths among people under age 45 are due to sugary drinks. For example, shop for groceries at a store like Numero Uno and observe the heavily stock shelves with soda, where it might seem overwhelming that such large quantities of soda bottles are rapidly being sold.

Be SugarAlert for eateries that exploit a soda fountain with unlimited refills of sugary drinks. Every time when you drink or serve a soda this summer that a 12-ounce (355 milliliters) serving of regular soda has about 10 teaspoons of processed sugar. It may not seem like a lot, but the American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of added sugars you consume to not exceed 100 calories per day, or about 6 teaspoons of sugar for women and 9 teaspoons for men each day.


Dean Jones is an Ethics Advocate, Southland Partnership Corporation (a public benefit organization), contributing his view on certain aspects of foodstuff.