by M. Victoria Salgado, Joanne Penko, Alicia Fernandez, Jonatan Konfino, Pamela G. Coxson, Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, Raul Mejia
Sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption is associated with obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. Argentina is one of the major consumers of SSBs per capita worldwide. Determining the impact of SSB reduction on health will inform policy debates.
Methods and findings
We used the Cardiovascular Disease Policy Model-Argentina (CVD Policy Model-Argentina), a local adaptation of a well-established computer simulation model that projects cardiovascular and mortality events for the population 35–94 years old, to estimate the impact of reducing SSB consumption on diabetes incidence, cardiovascular events, and mortality in Argentina during the period 2015–2024, using local demographic and consumption data. Given uncertainty regarding the exact amount of SSBs consumed by different age groups, we modeled 2 estimates of baseline consumption (low and high) under 2 different scenarios: a 10% and a 20% decrease in SSB consumption. We also included a range of caloric compensation in the model (0%, 39%, and 100%). We used Monte Carlo simulations to generate 95% uncertainty intervals (UIs) around our primary outcome measures for each intervention scenario. Over the 2015–2024 period, a 10% reduction in SSBs with a caloric compensation of 39% is projected to reduce incident diabetes cases by 13,300 (95% UI 10,800–15,600 [low SSB consumption estimate]) to 27,700 cases (95% UI 22,400–32,400 [high SSB consumption estimate]), i.e., 1.7% and 3.6% fewer cases, respectively, compared to a scenario of no change in SSB consumption. It would also reduce myocardial infarctions by 2,500 (95% UI 2,200–2,800) to 5,100 (95% UI 4,500–5,700) events and all-cause deaths by 2,700 (95% UI 2,200–3,200) to 5,600 (95% UI 4,600–6,600) for “low” and “high” estimates of SSB intake, respectively. A 20% reduction in SSB consumption with 39% caloric compensation is projected to result in 26,200 (95% UI 21,200–30,600) to 53,800 (95% UI 43,900–62,700) fewer cases of diabetes, 4,800 (95% UI 4,200–5,300) to 10,000 (95% UI 8,800–11,200) fewer myocardial infarctions, and 5,200 (95% UI 4,300–6,200) to 11,000 (95% UI 9,100–13,100) fewer deaths. The largest reductions in diabetes and cardiovascular events were observed in the youngest age group modeled (35–44 years) for both men and women; additionally, more events could be avoided in men compared to women in all age groups. The main limitations of our study are the limited availability of SSB consumption data in Argentina and the fact that we were only able to model the possible benefits of the interventions for the population older than 34 years.
Our study finds that, even under conservative assumptions, a relatively small reduction in SSB consumption could lead to a substantial decrease in diabetes incidence, cardiovascular events, and mortality in Argentina.