Most people know that sugary drinks are not healthy, but a new study found that fruit juices are not much better.
In fact, consuming them regularly can help shorten life, say the researchers.
"Older adults who drink sweeter drinks, including juices, sodas and other sugary drinks, may die sooner," said study author Jean Welsh. She is an associate professor at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.
"Efforts to reduce the consumption of sodas and other sugary drinks must also include fruit juices, and these efforts must include adults as well as children," said Welsh.
For the study, Welsh and colleagues collected data on 13,440 men and women, aged 64, on average, who participated in a large stroke study from 2003 to 2007. Of these, 71% were obese or overweight.
Participants were asked how many sweet drinks they had consumed. On an average of six years, 1,168 participants died.
Researchers found that people who drank the most sugary drinks – including 100% fruit juice – were more likely to die during the study than those who drank the least.
In addition, each additional 12 ounce beverage further increased the risk.
The report was published online May 17 in the JAMA Network Open.
In the United States, about half of the population consumes at least one sugary drink a day, said Marta Guasch-Ferre, research scientist at the Harvard T.H. Department of Nutrition, Chan School of Public Health, Boston.
"Most people know that sodas and other sugary drinks – including soft drinks, fruit punches, and energy drinks – are associated with weight gain and adverse health effects. Fruits are still widely perceived as a healthier option "-Freight said.
Evidence shows that sugary drinks are linked to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity, she added. The evidence is less clear for fruit juices.
The whole juice contains certain nutrients, which can be beneficial for health, but they also contain relatively high amounts of natural source sugar, explained Guasch-Ferre.
Although fruit juices have been associated with an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease, whole fruits have not been, she said.
Current recommendations suggest not to drink more than 4 to 6 ounces of juice a day, Guasch-Ferre said.
"Although fruit juices are not as harmful as sugared beverages, consumption should be moderate for both children and adults, especially for people trying to control their weight," said Guasch. Ferre, co-author of the editorial of a newspaper.
Fruit smoothies are generally considered healthier options. However, their ingredients can vary widely and research on their health effects is limited, she said. In addition, smoothies are usually very caloric and are therefore not recommended as a daily drink. Vegetable juice is a lower calorie alternative than fruit juice, but can contain a lot of salt.
"Current evidence suggests that water should be the preferred drink and that the consumption of other beverages, such as tea or coffee, without sugar and without powders, should be chosen instead of sugary drinks." "said Guasch-Ferre.