Originally published August 9 2015
Drinking soda causes diabetes even in people who aren't obese, study finds
by David Gutierrez, staff writer
(NaturalNews) Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages such as sodas can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes even in people of healthy weight, according to a study conducted by researchers from Cambridge University and published in the British Medical Journal.
The study also found an increased (though smaller) risk in people who consumed artificially sweetened, "diet" beverages.
Scientists have long known that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with increased diabetes risk, but they have assumed the risk occurred only in overweight people or others showing symptoms of metabolic syndrome - a cluster of symptoms, including central obesity, linked with diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
"This study adds further evidence that sugary drinks are associated with increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, even in non-obese people, suggesting we are all vulnerable," said Aseem Malhotra, spokesperson for Action on Sugar, who was not involved in the study. "They are linked to tens of thousands of deaths worldwide from type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. If these health time bombs were eliminated from the food supply, UK citizens would be in far better shape."
All sweetened drinks are dangerousThe researchers from the current study suspected that sugary drinks alone might be enough to cause diabetes, because their high sugar content causes the types of spikes in blood sugar levels believed to contribute to the development of insulin resistance. In order to see if there was a connection between the drinks and the disease, the researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 17 prior observational studies, none of them industry funded.
The results showed significantly higher rates of type 2 diabetes among people who regularly consumed sugar-sweetened beverages. Rates were also higher among people who drank fruit juice or artificially sweetened drinks, but the connection was weaker.
"Unsweetened coffee and tea or water may be the healthy option," researcher Fumiaki Imamura said.
If one assumes that the sugary drinks actually caused the elevated rates of diabetes seen in the study, the researchers write, then "the current consumption of sugar sweetened beverages was estimated to cause approximately 2 [million] excess events of type 2 diabetes in the USA and 80,000 in the UK over 10 years. This could cost nearly [$19 billion] in the USA and [$321 million] in the UK."
Cut back for your healthThe study fits into a growing global health effort to get people to cut back on consumption of sugary drinks. Just days before the study's publication, the United Kingdom's scientific advisory committee on nutrition said that sugar consumption should be cut back to no more than 5 percent of a person's caloric intake. The report singled out sugary carbonated beverages in particular as a source of unnecessary sugar.
In June, a similar warning was issued in a paper conducted by researchers from Tufts University and published in the journal Circulation. That study concluded, based on a survey of worldwide sugar consumption, that sugary drinks kill nearly 200,000 people per year: 6,450 from cancer, 45,000 from cardiovascular disease and 133,000 from diabetes.
"This is not complicated," senior author Dariush Mozaffarian said. "There are no health benefits from sugar-sweetened beverages, and the potential impact of reducing consumption is saving tens of thousands of deaths each year."
The message is clear: Regular consumption of sugary drinks places your health at risk.
In response to the Cambridge paper, Alasdair Rankin, director of research at Diabetes UK, said, "We would advise people to limit the amount of sugary drinks they have as part of a healthy diet in order to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes. There is very strong evidence that a healthy diet, together with regular physical activity, can help maintain a healthy weight and so help prevent type 2 diabetes."
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