By Stephanie Stahl


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A new study says drinking too much fruit juice can dramatically increase the risk of premature death. Sugary soda is unhealthy and fattening, but some people mistakenly think 100% fruit juice is a healthy option because it’s natural. Think again.

Even though the sugar in fruit juice occurs naturally, it’s just as bad for you as sweetened drinks, according to a study that says drinking too much fruit juice can increase the risk of an early death by as much as 42%.

“Excessive amounts of any sugar-sweetened drink, over time, is going to likely lead to weight gain and possibly obesity, eventually,” Kate Patton said. “It’s the obesity that’s really caused an increased death rate.”

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Researchers studied death records and dietary questionnaires from 13,000 people over the age of 45 years old for about six years.

They discovered people who get 10% or more of their daily calories from any sugary beverage increased their risk of premature death by 14%.

The increase in premature death from coronary heart disease was 44%.

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In total, the study showed each additional serving of fruit juice specifically was associated with a 24% higher risk of death.

“Portion size is important because it’s really the greater recommended portion of every additional serving that caused the increased risk,” Patton said. “I would encourage my patients to drink no more than four to eight ounces of juice per day.”

Researchers say sugary beverages increase insulin resistance and cause weight gain around the waist, which can be especially dangerous.

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For children who drink fruit juice, in addition to cutting down on the amount, doctors recommend diluting it with water.

An even better option would be to switch to real fruit. An orange or apple is loaded with fiber and all kinds of other nutrients.

Stephanie Stahl