Drinking ‘diet’ cola or lemonade is as bad for you as full-sugar varieties, a major study suggests.
Those who consumed sugar-sweetened or artificially sweetened drinks were more likely to die young, researchers found.
They analysed data on 1.2 million adults from 14 studies, with some tracking participants for more than 20 years.
During this time there were 137,310 deaths. The risk of dying increased with each additional 250ml of sweetened drink consumed a day – less than a standard 330ml can of pop.
Consuming sugar-sweetened drinks was linked to a 5 per cent increased risk of dying from any cause and a 13 per cent higher risk of dying from heart disease.
Researchers who analysed data on 1.2 million adults from 14 studies found those who consumed sugar-sweetened or artifically sweetened drinks were more likely to die young (stock picture)
People who drank the most were 12 per cent more likely to die from any cause and 20 per cent more likely to die from heart disease than those who drank the least.
Consuming artificially sweetened drinks was linked to a 4 per cent increased risk of dying from any cause and 7 per cent higher risk dying from heart disease.
Those who drank the most were 12 per cent more likely to die from any cause and 23 per cent more likely to die from heart disease than those who drank the least. Study lead author Dr Hongyi Li, from Zhengzhou University in China, told the Journal of Public Health: ‘High consumption of both artificially sweetened beverages and sugar-sweetened beverages showed significant associations with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease mortality and all-cause mortality.
‘This information may provide ideas for decreasing the global burden of diseases by reducing sweetened beverage intake.’
The UK Government introduced a sugar tax on drinks in April 2018 in a bid to reduce consumption and boost the nation’s health.
Consuming sugar-sweetened drinks was linked to a 5 per cent increased risk of dying from any cause and a 13 per cent higher risk of dying from heart disease (stock image)
Manufacturers of soft drinks containing more than 5g of sugar per 100ml are made to pay a levy of 18p a litre to the Treasury.
Those containing more than 8g of sugar per 100ml attract a higher tax of 24p a litre.
Households consumed 10 per cent less sugar from soft drinks the following year but sales of soft drinks overall remained unchanged. Experts say shoppers switched to alternative, lower-sugar, drinks or manufacturers reformulated recipes to avoid paying the tax.
Professor Graham MacGregor, from campaign group Action on Sugar, said: ‘People should ideally avoid sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened drinks, and choose a healthier option such as water.’
Gavin Partington, from the British Soft Drinks Association, said: ‘Soft drinks are safe to consume as part of a balanced diet.
‘The sector recognises it has a role to play in helping to tackle obesity which is why soft drinks manufacturers have led the way in reformulation work.’