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Drinking sugar sweetened beverages on a regular basis increases type 2 diabetes risk

Regular consumption of sugar sweetened beverages increases the risk of type 2 diabetes independent of obesity, according to a review of the evidence which also suggests that artificially sweetened beverages and fruit juice are unlikely to be healthy options.

An international team of researchers led by the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, analysed the results of 17 observational studies comprising 38,253 cases of type 2 diabetes over 10,126,756 person years.

Sugary drinks could be behind thousands of type 2 diabetes cases in the UK

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Higher consumption of sugar sweetened beverages by one serving per day was associated with an 18% greater incidence of type 2 diabetes; when adjusted for obesity, the increase in incidence was 13%.

After adjustment, higher consumption of artificially sweetened beverages and fruit juice by one serving per day increased the incidence of type 2 diabetes by 8% and 7%, respectively, but the quality of the evidence was limited. Nevertheless, the researchers say that neither are suitable alternatives to sugar sweetened beverages.

The findings do not prove cause and effect but have strong public health implications, say the researchers. They estimate if the results are causal, the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages could cause two million new cases of type 2 diabetes in the United States and 80,000 in the UK over ten years (2010-2020).

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