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Sugary drinks responsible for 1 in 200 deaths: Study

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By Charu Bahri

Sugar-sweetened beverages account for one in every 200 deaths caused by India’s rising tide of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, according to a 2015 study.

“Over 80 percent of those deaths happen because sugary drinks are associated with weight gain and diabetes,” Dariush Mozaffarian, study co-author and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition, Tufts University in the US, told IndiaSpend. Another 15 percent of those deaths occur because sugar-sweetened beverages are an established cause of heart disease, said Mozaffarian.

Heart disease and diabetes have reached epidemic levels in India, together responsible for 28 percent of all deaths.

Over the last decade, obesity has more than doubled among men, and risen one-and-a-half times among women, according to the latest National Family Health Survey.

One or two sugary drinks a day – what you might consider “moderate” consumption, and hence safe – are enough to cause trouble, according to scientific evidence.

People consuming one to two servings a day are at 26 percent greater risk of developing type-2 diabetes than those consuming no sugar-sweetened beverage or less than a serving a month.

Women consuming two or more sugary drinks a day had a 35 percent greater risk of developing coronary heart disease than infrequent consumers, according to this study. Men who averaged a can of a sugary beverage per day had a 20 percent higher risk of having a heart attack or dying from a heart attack compared to men who rarely consumed sugary drinks.

How tax hikes cut demand: The Mexican experience

India’s battle with excess weight and lifestyle diseases has turned the focus on high-calorie foods and beverages, and in turn, on taxation – a tool with the potential to lower consumption.

Higher taxes increase prices, which in turn lower demand. It’s a formula that has worked in Mexico.

A new 10 percent tax on soft drinks, introduced in January 2014 with the objective of lowering consumption 10-12 percent, actually lowered overall consumption by 12 percent, or 4.2 litres per person by December, a new Mexican study showed. Poorer households witnessed a 17 percent decline in consumption.

A 20 percent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages would cut India’s excess weight and obesity prevalence by three percent over a decade – and the cases of type-2 diabetes by 1.6% at current consumption growth rates – a 2014 study estimated.

That implies India would have 11.2 million fewer cases of obesity and 400,000 fewer cases of type-2 diabetes.

If soft drink consumption were to rise further – as it likely will, in line with the annual average growth of 13 percent since 1998 – the authors of the India study suggested that taxation would avert 4.2 percent of prevalent excess weight/obesity and 2.5 percent of type-2 diabetes cases.

In India, the weather impacts fizzy drink demand more than higher tax

In July 2014, the Indian government increased the tax on sugar-sweetened beverages by five percent, hoping to curb consumption.

With that, the tax on sugar-sweetened beverages touched approximately 18 percent, which sounds high, but not enough to make a sizeable dent in demand, according to IndiaSpend’s analyses.

Sales of aerated beverages increased 10 percent in 2014, according to the Indian Beverage Association, a lobby group. This is because “summer had already passed by July 2014, when the tax was increased”, Arvind Varma, secretary-general of the Indian Beverage Association, told IndiaSpend. About 40 percent of the soft-drink industry’s annual sales occur between April and June.

Sales of aerated beverages declined 10 percent between April and September 2015, “primarily because of the mild summer of 2015, but the additional five tax on aerated beverages has only served to deepen the impact on the industry”, said Varma.

Coca-Cola, the industry leader, referred to “unseasonal weather” for a “mid single-digit decline” in India sales between April and June 2015, with sales growing four percent between July and September.

Sales of sugar-sweetened fizzy beverages grew nine in 2014, when the extra tax was imposed, according to Euromonitor International, a market-intelligence company that projected similar sales growth in 2015.

If India’s last five percent tax hike has not served to curtail demand for sugary drinks, it may be time for another round of increases.

“India can expect the consumption of sugary beverages to fall in response to taxes that are high enough, because India, like Mexico, has a surfeit of price-conscious consumers and comparatively lower income levels, consumer segments that are more price-sensitive,” said Barry Popkin, professor of nutrition, University of North Carolina, and co-author of the Mexican study that advocates taxes as a disincentive.

In greater awareness, lies India’s health

The government should raise taxes, launch awareness campaigns, and curtail soft-drink availability, especially in schools and sports complexes, said health experts.

“Higher tax is definitely one of the strongest interventions to reduce consumption, but it should be accompanied by robust behavioral interventions to change social norms and perceptions,” said Manu Raj Mathur, research scientist and assistant professor at the Public Health Foundation of India advocacy. Mathur studies ways to reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among adolescents and school children.

“Increasing awareness about the risks and health consequences of high sugar intake would help inspire sorely-needed dietary changes-permanently,” said Hemalatha R of Hyderabad’s National Institute of Nutrition.

Mathur said their interactions with adolescents from private schools in Delhi and their parents and teachers show that most believe sugar-sweetened beverages to mainly be fizzy drinks. “They did not recognize fruit juices in tetra packs as sugar-sweetened beverages and even referred to them as healthy alternatives to Coke and Pepsi,” he said.

Packaged fruit juices contain added sugar, as do most dairy-based beverages and sport and energy drinks. Parents and teachers want prominent film stars and sports people to counter celebrity endorsements of sugary drinks. Such advertisements lead adolescents into believing that sugary beverages in moderation are not harmful – a prominent qualitative finding of Mathur’s study. (IANS/IndiaSpend.org)(Photo: www.natureworldnews.com)

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  • Manthra koliyer

    Yes, sugary drinks are very harmful and affect our bodies.

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12 things you must know about cold drinks in India

If you're addicted to cold drinks, chances are that you are not the only one.

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By Ruchika Verma

  • Cold drinks are one of the lesser known addictions in India
  • Sodas or cold drinks be it cola or non-cola can have harmful effects on us
  • The key is to consume cold drinks in moderation, and not excessively

If you’re addicted to cold drinks, chances are that you are not the only one. Everyone loves the sugary, carbonated taste of cold drinks, especially during summers.

Cold drinks tastes good, but they have some harmful effects on us too. VOA
Cold drinks tastes good, but they have some harmful effects on us too. VOA

Even in winters, we don’t really hesitate in consuming our favourite cold drinks. However, it is important to know their effect on our health and environment. Here is the list of 12 things you must know about cold drinks:

Obesity

Increase consumption of soda or cold drinks is said to one of the major reasons for high obesity rates and other health problems associated with it, as per some health experts. One can of soda contains about 150 calories, which if consumed regularly, can increase your weight by 6 kgs per year.

Sodas and cold drinks can cause obesity and diabetes. VOA
Sodas and cold drinks can cause diseases like obesity and diabetes. VOA

Causes Diabetes

High consumption of cold drinks can cause diseases like, Type 2 Diabetes. Use of artificial sweetener leads to diabetes and thus children and sugar patients should refrain from consuming soft drinks in excessive amount.

Tooth decay

Cold drinks can cause tooth decay and no, not even your toothpastes and toothbrush can save you from this. The acid in cold drinks can damage your teeth more than sugar. The acid present  in soft drinks weakens tooth enamel, which leads to cavities and tooth decay.

Also Read : 5 Drinks Which Will Help You Lose Weight

Cold drinks can cause a lots of harm to our body and its immunity. Wikimedia Commons
Cold drinks can cause a lots of harm to our body and its immunity. Wikimedia Commons

Caffeine dependency

Many carbonated drinks, be it cola and non-cola, contain caffeine. Caffeine is addictive and can cause insomnia, irritability and other related symptoms in some people. If one is already having problems with caffeine, they should avoid cold drinks as much as they can.

Nutrition deficiency

It may sound quite weird, but it all boils down to the fact that sodas and cold drinks are simply not healthy. Many people have  a habit of choosing soda over other beverages like water, milk, juice, etc. If you are one of those people too, chances are, you’re not getting the required amount of nutrients into your body.

One should go for healthier alternatives of cold drinks. Wikimedia Commons
One should go for healthier alternatives of soft drinks. Wikimedia Commons

Weak bones

Not getting required nutrients will obviously have an effect on your health. However, cold drinks can affect your bones as well. Studies suggest that excess consumption of soft drinks which contains acid, can reduce the calcium quotient of our bones by preventing the nutrient from getting absorbed.

Artificial sweeteners

This should not really come as a surprise. All cold drinks have artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are not necessarily unhealthy. However, recent studies show that long-term consumption can damage our sugar taste receptors, leading us to crave more sugar oriented food.

Also Read : Sugary drinks responsible for 1 in 200 deaths

Cold drinks can cause tooth decay, obesity, etc. Wikimedia Commons
Cold drinks can cause tooth decay, obesity, etc. Wikimedia Commons

Slows Metabolism

When tired, try not to consume cold drinks and instead go for fresh juice or water. One can of soft drink can decrease your metabolism rate by 2 times. It also destroys fat burning enzymes leading to obesity.
Affects Reproduction Capabilities
Few studies have suggested that the use of artificial sweeteners in cold drinks, like saccharin and sucralose can affect reproduction capabilities in humans. It can decrease the chances of pregnancy in women. The presence of caffeine in cold drinks can also decrease the sperm count in men, it may affect the quality of the sperm too.
There are many brands which are famous in India and are regularly consumed. Wikimedia Commons
There are many brands which are famous in India and are regularly consumed. Wikimedia Commons
Top Selling Brands of cold drinks in India
In India, a cold drink is consumed every minute by someone. The most popular brands of cold drinks in India are, Pepsi, Coca Cola, Thumbs Up. Other drinks include Limca, Mountain Dew and Sprite, which have lemon essence in them. There are other brands like Fanta and Miranda too which are orange flavoured and less preferred drinks.
Controversies
Controversies and cold drinks are almost synonymous. There have been many controversies which revolve around cold drinks and its effects on our health. Concerns over usage of water, accusations over pesticides and sweeteners, and also, the general concerns about how these drinks are unhealthy, keeps on plaguing these drinks.
Coca Cola is known to spend a huge amount of money on its advertisement campaigns. Wikimedia Common
Coca Cola is known to spend a huge amount of money on its advertisement campaigns. Wikimedia Common
Advertising Expenses 
Cold drink brands hire the most famous celebrities to be their brand ambassadors. Their campaigns are often huge and present ideas which are larger than life. A lot of money is being spent on the advertising of these soft drinks. Coca Cola normally spends up to $3.499 billion in a year on its advertising campaigns.