Soft drinks significantly increase risk of diabetes

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 28th October 2010

Drink cansAn independent study by the Harvart School of Public Health has found a clear link between the consumption of soft drink, and type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

While type II diabetes has long been associated with poor diet and high sugar intake, the study suggests that as little as one to two sugary drinks per day can increase the risk of type II diabetes by 26%.

“Many previous studies have examined the relationship between sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of diabetes, and most have found positive associations, but our study, which is a pooled analysis of the available studies, provides an overall picture of the magnitude of risk and the consistency of the evidence,” said lead author Vasanti Malik, a research fellow in the HSPH Department of Nutrition.

Consumption of sugary drinks, mostly soft drinks, has increased substantially around the world, and studies have shown consistent associations with weight gain and risk of obesity.

The researchers, led by Malik and senior author Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at HSPH, did a meta-analysis that pooled 11 studies that examined the association between sugar-sweetened beverages and those conditions. The studies included more than 300,000 participants and 15,043 cases of type 2 diabetes and 19,431 participants and 5,803 cases of metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors, such as high blood pressure and excess body fat around the waist, that increase the risk of coronary artery disease, stroke and diabetes.

While many factors contribute to type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome, the researchers say that sugar-sweetened beverages are a risk that people can easily avoid.

“People should limit how much sugar-sweetened beverages they drink and replace them with healthy alternatives, such as water, to reduce risk of diabetes as well as obesity, gout, tooth decay, and cardiovascular disease,” said Malik.

The results of the study will be published in the November issue of the journal Diabetes Care.