Sugary soft drinks could be causing almost 200,000 deaths a year worldwide, a study has found.
Researchers used data from a major investigation of global disease to calculate the death toll associated with consumption of sodas and other sweetened drinks.
They linked the drinks to 133,000 deaths from diabetes, 44,000 from heart disease and 6,000 from cancer.
The vast majority, 78%, of the deaths occurred in low and middle-income countries rather than rich countries.
Although a causal link cannot be proved, sugar-sweetened drinks are known to contribute to excess body weight which in turn increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
The scientists based their findings on information collected as part of the 2010 Global Burden of Diseases study.
Of nine world regions, Latin America and the Caribbean had the highest number of diabetes deaths linked to soft drinks.
East and central Russia had the largest number of heart disease deaths.
Mexico, which has one of the highest levels of sugary drink consumption in the world, had the greatest overall death rate.
In Mexico, 318 deaths per million adults each year were associated with sugar-sweetened drink consumption.
Japan, whose population is among those consuming the least sugary drinks, had the lowest death rate - just 10 per million adults.
"Because we were focused on deaths due to chronic disease, our study focused on adults," said lead researcher Dr Gitanjali Singh, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, US.
"Future research should assess the amount of sugary beverage consumption in children across the world and how this affects their current and future health."
The findings were presented today at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism (EPI/NPAM) meeting in New Orleans.
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