LONDON—Individuals who drink one 12-ounce sugar-sweetened soft drink a day have a 22% increased risk for diabetes compared to those who don’t consume any sugar drinks, according to a new study published in Diabetologia.
Researchers from Imperial College London and the InterAct consortium conducted the study to determine whether an association between drinking juices, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and artificially sweetened soft drinks and type 2 diabetes existed in Europe.
They used data on consumption of juices and nectars, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and artificially sweetened soft drinks collected across eight European cohorts participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study involving some 350,000 participants.
As part of the InterAct project, the researchers did a study that included 12,403 type 2 diabetes cases and a random sub-cohort of 16,154 identified within EPIC. After adjusting for confounding factors, they found consumption of one 12-ounce (336ml) serving size of sugar-sweetened soft drink per day increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 22%. This increased risk fell slightly to 18% when total energy intake and body-mass index (BMI) were accounted for. This could indicate that the effect of sugar-sweetened soft drink on diabetes goes beyond its effect on body weight.
The researchers also observed a statistically significant increase in type 2 diabetes incidence related to artificially sweetened soft drink consumption; however, the association disappeared after taking into account the BMI of participants. They said it probably indicates the association was not causal but driven by the weight of participants. Pure fruit juice and nectar consumption was not significantly associated with diabetes incidence; however, it was not possible using the data available to study separately the effect of 100% pure juices from those with added sugars.
They found the increased risk of diabetes among sugar-sweetened soft drink consumers in Europe is similar to that found in a meta-analysis of previous studies conducted mostly in North America that found a 25% increased risk of type 2 diabetes associated with one 12-ounce daily increment of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption.
In March 2013, research presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions blamed sugary drinks, such as soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks and fruit drinks, for approximately 180,000 deaths globally each year. The study was released just one week after study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found children who consume sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) have higher caloric intakes of foods and higher intakes of unhealthy foods compared to children who do not drink sugary drinks.
In 2010, results of a meta-analysis conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) showed that regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is clearly and consistently associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Specifically, drinking two sugar-sweetened drinks per day increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 26%, and increases the risk of metabolic syndrome by 20% compared with those who consumed less than one sugary drink per month. Drinking one 12-ounce serving per day increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by about 15%.