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Sugary Drinks Linked to Increased Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Sugary drinks increase the risk of type-2 diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions. A recent study suggests that for every 5% increase of a person’s total calorie intake that comes from sugary drinks, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes may increase by as much as 18%.

Participants in the study included more than 25,000 people between the ages of 40 and 79 who were living in Norfolk, England. All of the participants recorded everything they ate and drank for seven consecutive days. Particular attention was paid to type, amount, and frequency of consumption as well as whether they added sugar.

The study had an average 11 years of follow up, during which time 847 of the participants were diagnosed with type-2 diabetes.

Because the food diaries were so detailed, the researchers were able to assess the effects of several different types of sugary drinks. They were also able to examine what would happen if water, unsweetened tea, or artificially sweetened beverages were substituted for those drinks.

After examining the data, the researchers found that replacing one serving of a soft drink with a serving of water, unsweetened tea, or coffee, cut the risk of diabetes by 14%. Replacing a serving of sweetened milk beverage with water or unsweetened tea or coffee reduced the risk by 20%-25%. No difference in diabetes risk was seen when sugary drinks were replaced with artificially sweetened beverages.

The researchers also found that each 5% of higher intake of calories from sweet beverages was associated with an 18% higher risk of developing diabetes. They estimated that had the participants reduced their calories obtained from sweet beverages to below 10%, 5% or 2% of total daily calories, the result would have been a 3%, 7% or 15%, respectively, lower risk of new-onset diabetes cases.

Researchers from the UK Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge conducted the study. It was published the May 2015 issues of Diabetologia.

Previous studies suggest that the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is linked to the obesity epidemic in the US. Obesity increases the risk for adverse health conditions such as heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and osteoarthritis.
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