In 28 years, global consumption of sugary soft drinks such as sodas, energy drinks, fruit juices, punch, lemonade – which several studies have linked to obesity risk diabetes and other diseases – has risen by almost 16%. This is the figure reported by researchers from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy in a study published in the journal Nature Communications. The analysis is based on the Global Dietary Database for the years 1990, 2005 and 2018 and found an overall increase in the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, albeit with wide regional variations.
Sugar-sweetened beverages (which contain more than 50 calories per serving) pose a public health concern because they have been widely associated with obesity and cardiometabolic disease, which are among the leading causes of death and disability globally. Many national guidelines recommend limiting added sugars to below 5-10% of daily calories, and because sodas provide no nutritional value, some countries tax their consumption to help their citizens achieve this.
The analysis found that, in 2018, an average person consumed 2.7 servings of sugary drinks per week, but this figure ranged from 0.7 servings per week in South Asia to 7.8 servings per week in Latin America and the Caribbean. Nationally, the countries where people consumed the most servings of sugar-sweetened beverages per week included Mexico (8.9), Ethiopia (7.1), the United States (4.9), and Nigeria (4.9), compared to India, China, and Bangladesh (0.2 each). Males and juveniles drink the most.
"These findings suggest that more needs to be done, especially with regard to preventive measures such as advertising regulations, food labeling and soda taxes," points out first author Laura Lara-Castor. "Despite efforts to diminish their appeal, intake of sugar-sweetened beverages has increased in recent decades," says Dariush Mozaffarian. "Some populations are particularly vulnerable, and our findings provide evidence to inform the need and design of national and more targeted policies to reduce consumption worldwide."
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