Association of added sugar intake with all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality: a systematic review of cohort studies

Nutr Res Pract. 2022 May;16(Suppl 1):S21-S36. doi: 10.4162/nrp.2022.16.S1.S21. Epub 2022 Feb 17.


Background/objectives: The long-term health impacts of dietary sugar have begun to be reported. The committee on the 2020 Dietary Reference Intakes for Koreans for sugar intended to update the scientific evidence on the association of added sugar intake with health outcomes, including mortality. This study evaluated the evidence on the association of dietary sugar with the all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality from cohort studies.

Subjects/methods: The PubMed and ScienceDirect databases were searched until July 2021. The search terms were based on multiple combinations of keywords, such as added sugar, beverage, and mortality, included in the title or abstract. Two authors independently assessed the eligibility criteria of study selection and extracted the information from each selected article for this systematic review.

Results: The literature search identified 276 articles. Seventeen cohort studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in this systematic review. This study extracted information on the cohort and participants, dietary assessment methods, exposure and its comparison groups, health outcomes, and risk measures. Five articles reported added sugar intake, and 15 articles reported the food sources of the added sugar in the association with mortality. Increased mortality was observed in higher added sugar intake and a lower intake of less than 5% of energy, while higher discrepancies between gender, age groups, and countries were noted. In addition, nutritious sugary foods and beverages did not increase mortality.

Conclusions: A 'U' or 'J' shaped relationship between the added sugar intake and mortality was estimated. The observed discrepancy indicated the need for more evidence to establish the dose-response relationship for Koreans.

Keywords: Dietary sugars; mortality; sugar-sweetened beverages.

Publication types

  • Review