orange juice, fruit juice, sugar sweetened beverages

Mortality Rate Increases With Each Sugary Drink Interview with:
Jean A. Welsh, RN, MPH, PhD
Departments of Epidemiology and Pediatrics
Emory University
Wellness Department, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
Atlanta, Georgia What is the background for this study?

Response: As the evidence has accumulated regarding the health risks associated with sugar-sweetened beverages, I’ve wondered about fruit juices.  Though they have a kind of healthy halo, their main ingredients are the same as sugar-sweetened beverages, sugar and water.  We know that young children drink a lot of fruit juice, and I’ve wondered if older children and adults might switch to drinking more as concern grows about soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages. What are the main findings? 

Response: We did this study among adults in the U.S. to look at the independent and the combined effect of fruit juices and sugar-sweetened beverages (sugary beverages) on risk of early death.

We found that higher consumers of sugary beverages were at greater risk with each additional serving . . . and that this increase in risk was higher even with fruit juices alone, and even after accounting for other risk factors. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Everyone, from children to older adults, need to be aware of the fact that juices are high in sugar, the same sugar and in similar amounts found in sugar-sweetened beverages, and that sugary beverages, which have previously been linked to increased risk of having heart disease and diabetes, may also increase the chances of dying early. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? 

Response: Longer term studies that can look at the risk related to sugary beverage consumption over the lifetime are needed as are studies that are able to more accurately assess consumption levels and control for other related risk factors.  


Collin LJ, Judd S, Safford M, Vaccarino V, Welsh JA. Association of Sugary Beverage Consumption With Mortality Risk in US Adults: A Secondary Analysis of Data From the REGARDS Study. JAMA Netw Open.2019;2(5):e193121. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.3121

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Last Updated on May 19, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD