BEIJING, March 20 (Xinhuanet) -- Some 180, 000 obesity-related deaths a year worldwide are blamed on the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, according to a study presented at an American Heart Association scientific conference in New Orleans.
By using information from 114 countries, the study was quoted by media Wednesday as finding that sugar-sweetened beverage consumption accounted for 133,000 deaths from diabetes, 44,000 deaths from cardiovascular diseases and 6,000 deaths from cancer.
It also said that 78 percent of these deaths were in low- and middle-income countries.
Of the 35 largest nations, Mexico had the highest rate of deaths related to the beverages, with theUnited Statesranking third, andJapanhad the lowest sugar-related deaths.
“Our findings should push policy makers world-wide to make effective policies to reduce consumption of sugary beverages, such as taxation, mass-media campaigns, and reducing availability of these drinks," said researcher Gitanjali M. Singh, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Mass.
However, the American Beverage Association, the trade group for the non-alcoholic beverage industry, warned that the study only found the association between sugar-sweetened beverages and diabetes, but didn’t show consuming sugar causes diabetes.
It recommended that based on a 2,000-calories-a-week diet, adults should not consume more than 450 calories from sugar-sweetened beverages.
It is more important to focus on overall diet, instead of being too preoccupied with any particular nutrient, according to Dr. David Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine.
He said: "If we improve the quality of diets, we improve both sugar intake, and salt intake and everything else, and will certainly have better health to show for it."
The United States has taken measures to curb sugar-related obesity.
On Sep. 13, 2012, the New York City Board of Health approved a proposal by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to ban sales of super-sized sugary beverages in the city to help reduce obesity.
"This is the biggest step a city has taken to curb obesity," said Bloomberg. "The Board of Health's passing this proposal means that New Yorkers will soon consume fewer junk calories and eventually begin turning the tide of the obesity epidemic that is destroying the health of far too many of our citizens."
The new law could go into effect as early as March 2013.
However, the ban, believed to be the first of its kind in the United States, doesn't cover diet sodas or beverages sold in supermarkets and most convenience stores.