Soft Drink Consumption Allegedly Linked to Global Weight Gain
A recent study has allegedly concluded that soft drink consumption “is significantly linked to overweight, obesity and diabetes worldwide, including in low- and middle-income countries.” Sanjay Basu, et al., “Relationship of Soft Drink Consumption to Global Overweight, Obesity, and Diabetes: A Cross-National Analysis of 75 Countries,” American Journal of Public Health, November 2013. Relying on soft drink industry data obtained from the EuroMonitor Passport Global Market Information Database, researchers analyzed soft drink sale records for 79 countries from 1997 to 2010 that included per capita annual purchases of both imported and domestically-produced carbonated soft drinks. They also examined age-standardized overweight prevalence data obtained from the World Health Organization’s Global Database on Body Mass Index, which reflects “the best available population-representative, survey-based estimates of the percentage of adults aged 20 years and older in each country who had a [BMI] of 25 kg/m2 of greater.”
After assessing “global trends and variation in soft drink consumption” as well as “the relationship between soft drink consumption and overweight, obesity, and diabetes prevalence,” the study’s authors reported that “soft drink consumption increased globally from 9.5 gallons per person per year in 1997 to 11.4 gallons in 2010.” Based on these results, they noted that each 1 percent increase in soft drink consumption was associated with (i) an additional 4.8 overweight adults per 100 adults, (ii) an additional 2.3 obese adults per 100 adults, and (iii) an additional 0.3 adults with diabetes per 100 adults.
“Industry analysts suggest that soft drink consumption is expected to rise by 15.7% over the next 5 years in low- and middle-income countries and 9.5% worldwide,” concludes the study. “To put the magnitude of the associations we found into perspective, this projected rise in soft drink consumption would correspond to an additional 2.3 billion adults who are overweight, 1.1 billion adults who are obese, and 192 million new cases of diabetes worldwide over the next 5 years, with at least 60% of the burden falling on low- and middle-income countries.”
In a related development, a second study has purportedly found that decreased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) among U.S. adults is linked to improved biomarkers for chronic disease risk. Kerrie Hert, et al., “Decreased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages improved selected biomarkers of chronic disease risk among U.S. adults: 1999-2010,” Nutrition Research, October 2013. Relying on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2010, University of North Dakota researchers noted that SSB consumption decreased during this time while (i) high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels increased, (ii) low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels decreased, and (iii) C-reactive protein (CRP)—a measure of inflammation—decreased. They also concluded that higher intakes of SSBs were associated with lower HDL and higher CRP.
“The correlations follow trend lines. The biomarkers improved over time as soda consumption declined. The overall conclusion to be drawn from this study is that it provides further evidence that drinking less sugary soda is a good idea,” New York University Nutrition Professor Marion Nestle told FoodNavigator-USA.com in independent comments about the study. “This present study may have its own methodologic problems but its results are consistent with many other independently funded studies pointing in the same direction.” See FoodNavigator USA. com, October 25, 2013.