Just one serve of soft drink a day increases risk of diabetes, study finds

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 1st May 2013

Drinking one 12 ounce (about 336ml) serving size of sugar-sweetened soft drink a day can be enough to increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 22 per cent, a new UK study has found. The risk increases by 22 per cent with each extra soft drink consumed.

The research, published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes), found that the increased risk of diabetes among sugar-sweetened soft drink consumers in Europe is similar to that found in a recent analysis of previous studies that were conducted mainly in North America.

The researchers from the Imperial College in London – Dr Dora Romaguera, Dr Petra Wark, Dr Teresa Norat and other colleagues – used data on consumption of juices and nectars, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and artificially sweetened soft drinks collected across eight European cohorts, covering some 350,000 participants. The countries involved in the study were France, Italy, Spain, Denmark, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden.

The study found that, after adjusting for confounding factors, consumption of one 12 ounce serving size of sugar-sweetened soft drink per day increased the risk of diabetes of type 2 diabetes by 22 per cent. This increased risk fell slightly to 18 per cent when total energy intake and body mass index (BMI) were accounted for. Both these factors are thought to mediate the association between sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption and diabetes incidence. This could indicate that the effect of sugar-sweetened soft drink on diabetes goes beyond its effect on body weight.

Concerns about artificially-sweetened drinks

The authors also observed a statistically significant increase in the incidence of type 2 diabetes related to artificially sweetened soft drink consumption, however this significant association disappeared after taking into account the BMI of participants. The study’s authors said this probably indicated that the association was not causal but driven by the weight of the participants (that is, participants with a higher body weight tend to report higher consumption of artificially sweetened drinks, and are also more likely to develop diabetes).

Fruit juices

Pure fruit juice and nectar consumption was not significantly associated with diabetes incidence, however the study’s authors said it was not possible using the data available to study separately the effect of 100 per cent pure juices from those with added sugars.

The researchers said 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. The American analysis found a 25 per cent increased risk of type 2 diabetes associated with one 12 ounce daily increment of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption.

“Given the increase in sweet beverage consumption in Europe, clear messages on the unhealthy effect of these drinks should be given to the population,” said Dr Romaguera, one of the study’s authors.

The study was completed by the InterACT consortium, which is a sub-division of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. The EPIC study was designed to investigate the relationship between diet, nutritional status, lifestyle and environmental factors and the incidence of cancer and other chronic diseases.


Study finds sugar-sweetened drinks increase diabetes risk