A report presented to the American Heart Association Tuesday found sugary drinks are associated with the deaths of 180,000 people worldwide every year, thanks to the health problems that develop from obesity.
Researchers linked the intake of sweetened beverages such as sodas, sports drinks and fruit drinks with 133,000 diabetes deaths, 44,000 deaths from cardiovascular diseases and 6,000 cancer deaths in 2010, according to the 2010 Global Burden of Diseases Study.
"In the U.S., our research shows that about 25,000 deaths in 2010 were linked to drinking sugar-sweetened beverages," said Gitanjali M. Singh, Ph.D, study co-author and a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard's School of Public Health.
Mexico, where people consume more sugar-sweetened beverages than almost anywhere else in the world, had the highest rate of deaths related to sweetened beverage intake. Japan, with among the lowest consumption rates, has a correspondingly low rate of sugary drink-related deaths.
The U.S. ranks third.
Although the results of the study have yet to published in a peer-reviewed journal, meaning they are considered preliminary, the findings are in line with similar reports linking sugary beverages with increased incidence of Type 2 diabetes.
The American Beverage Association, in a statement released on its website, disputed the findings of the study.
"This abstract, which is not peer-reviewed nor published in a way where its methodology can be fully evaluated, is more about sensationalism than science," the statement said. "The researchers make a huge leap when they take beverage intake calculations from around the globe and allege that those beverages are the cause of deaths which the authors themselves acknowledge are due to chronic disease."