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America Could Save $19.6 Billion If It Stopped Drinking Sugary Drinks

Carbonated drinks in plastic bottles

Every 17 seconds someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with diabetes, and according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal, soda is one of the main reasons to blame. Although that may not sound like news, the relationship between type 2 diabetes and sugary drinks has been seriously put into stark relief.

Specifically, America could save $19.6 billion if it stopped drinking sugary beverages.

Researchers from medical schools in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Finland conducted a meta-analysis of 17 studies to look for a link between type 2 diabetes and the regular consumption of sugar sweetened beverages, artificially sweetened drinks, and/or fruit juices.

Researchers found that drinking just one extra sugar sweetened beverage a day over 10 years for participants living in the U.S. and the UK was associated with an 18% greater incidence of type 2 diabetes than those who steered clear of the stuff.

What’s most interesting, though, is that after researchers adjusted the estimates for body weight, they found that one sugary drink per day was still associated with a 13% increased risk. In other words, sugary drinks even increase the risk of diabetes in thin or normal-weight folks.

“So even if people are lean, if they continue consuming sugar-sweetened beverages, they have a greater likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes,” study author Fumiaki Imamura told NPR.

This study has serious implications. First of all, the researchers estimate that if Americans give up their sugary drink habit, two million cases of diabetes will be prevented by the year 2020. Secondly, each of these cases cost $9,800 in the United States (and in the UK, each case costs $3,994). That’s about $19.6 billion in savings.

In response to the study, the American Beverage Association said in a statement, “The authors of this study acknowledge their findings do not show drinking beverages of any type causes chronic disease. Even so, our industry is committed to being part of real solutions to public health challenges. We are helping people manage their calorie and sugar intake by providing a wide range of beverage options, a variety of package sizes and clear, easy-to-read information to help them make the choice that’s right for them. And with our latest initiative – Balance Calories – we are working toward a common goal of reducing beverage calories in the American diet by 20 percent by 2025.”

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