Would You Like Diabetes With That?

Sugary drinks increase type 2 diabetes risk in large study of adults

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Washing down a meal with a couple soft drinks may not seem like a big deal. However, those drinks may play a part in your overall health risks down the line.

A recent study found that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages increase a person's risk for type 2 diabetes.

The findings do not mean that soft drinks cause type 2 diabetes. However, people who regularly have sugary drinks each day are at higher risk for developing the condition.

Just 12 ounces a day was linked to diabetes risk.

"Save money and get healthy: Drink water!"

The study was authored by the InterAct consortium at the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Imperial College London School of Public Health in the United Kingdom. This group includes researchers from across Europe.

The researchers compared two groups of European adults. One group of 11,684 adults had type 2 diabetes.

The other group of 15,374 adults did not have type 2 diabetes and were participating in one of eight large groups across Europe being studied in a large cancer and nutrition study.

All of the participants filled out detailed questionnaires related to how many sugar-sweetened beverages they drink.

These beverages included juices, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and artificially-sweetened drinks.

The researchers found that 12 ounces of sugar-sweetened soft drinks each day put a person at 18 percent higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

This link remained even when the researchers adjusted their calculations to account for the participants' weight.

Interestingly, 12 ounces daily of artificially-sweetened soft drinks originally appeared to increase a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 52 percent. However, once the researchers took into account other factors of the participants' diets, this association was no longer strong enough to be considered a risk factor.

The researchers suggested that this original link may have existed because the people who drink artificially-sweetened drinks may tend to have poorer health generally, which past research has found.

Another possibility is that those who drink artificially-sweetened beverages tend be more overweight, which past research has also found to be true.

The researchers did not find a link between drinking juice and risk of type 2 diabetes.

"The article provides a valuable contribution to the current discussions about soft drinks on one hand and our global epidemics of obesity and diabetes on the other," said Deborah Gordon, MD, a dailyRx expert who specializes in nutrition.

"As someone who believes that juices also can have the same effect as soda, I was surprised to see that there was little impact for the rate of juice drinking, but do note that juice consumption was higher – just as vegetable consumption was lower – in the daily soda drinkers," Dr. Gordon said.

"I expect there will be more studies regarding the hazards of soda consumption over the next decade, and that eventually soda sippers will be as ostracized then as smokers are now," she said.

The study was published April 26 in the journal Diabetologia. The research was funded by the European Union program, and the authors declared no financial conflicts of interest.

Additional funding was provided by NL Agency, the Board of the UMC Utrecht in the Netherlands, the Dutch Ministry of Public Health, the Netherlands Cancer Registry, LK Research Funds, Dutch Prevention Funds, Dutch ZON, the World Cancer Research Fund, Statistics Netherlands, the Swedish Research Council, Novo Nordisk, the Swedish Heart Lung Foundation, the Swedish Diabetes Association, the Danish Cancer Society, Deutsche Krebshilfe, the Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro, Asturias Regional Government, the Health Research Fund of the Spanish Ministry of Health, the CIBER en Epidemiología y Salud Pública in Spain, the Murcia Regional Government, AIRE-ONLUS Ragusa, AVIS-Ragusa and Sicilian Regional Government.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 2, 2013
Last Updated:
August 14, 2013