Sugar-sweetened drinks are bad for you.
We’ve known this for some time: many studies show that sugary drinks like sodas and lemonade play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes, especially in children(1).
But now researchers from Cambridge University in the UK say that they have found a link between type 2 diabetes and those who drink diet sodas or drinks containing artificial sweeteners.
“Unsweetened coffee or tea or water may be the healthy option,” said Fmiaki Imamura, a member of the Medical Research Council epidemiology unit at the University of Cambridge School Of Clinical Medicine(2).
The paper, which was published in the British Medical Journal(3), followed the recommendations of the government’s scientific advisory committee on nutrition, which advises individuals to limit their sugar consumption to 5% of their daily diet(4).
Examining The Link Between Obesity And Diabetes
What’s unique about this study is that it indicates something relatively new – that sugary drinks and drinks made with sugar alternatives may cause type 2 diabetes regardless of whether or not an individual is obese.
While it is generally accepted that obesity puts individuals at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes than those who are not obese, dietary factors can play a role in even thin people developing the 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, a spokesperson for the organization Action on Sugar.
“They are linked to tens of thousands of deaths worldwide from type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.”
All Sweetened Drinks Are Dangerous
The study results showed that rates of type 2 diabetes were significantly higher among people who consumed sweetened drinks regularly – but that’s not all: rates were also higher among individuals who drank fruit juice or artificially sweetened drinks, indicating that all sweetened drinks carry a degree of risk.
“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,” the study wrote.
Cutting Back On Sweet Drinks
Many researchers, as well as doctors, have been calling for individuals to cut back on sweetened beverages for years now. In June of this year, a study published in the journal Circulation concluded that sugary drinks are responsible for the deaths of nearly 200,000 people per year – that’s 133,000 deaths from diabetes, 45,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease and 6,450 deaths from cancer.(5)
“There are no health benefits from sugar-sweetened beverages,” said study author Dariush Mozaffarian.
“And the potential impact of reducing consumption is saving tens of thousands of deaths each year.”(6)
The message is clear – if you drink a lot of sweetened beverages, it’s time to start cutting back.