Consuming Two or More Sugary Drinks a Day Doubles Diabetes Risk

According to a new study, diabetes risk may be doubled for individuals who consume more than two soft drinks a day, regardless of whether the beverages consist of sugar or artificial sweeteners.

From this new study, researchers analyzed more than 2,800 people, and found that the consumption of a minimum of two 200-milliliter sugary or artificially sweetened soft drinks per day was linked to a twofold greater risk of type 2diabetes, as well as  a form of type 1 diabetes known as latent autoimmune diabetes of adults (LADA).

Lead Study author Josefin Edwall Löfvenborg and colleagues published their findings in the European Journal of Endocrinology.

It is estimated that about 29.1 million Americans – i.e., about 9.3 % of the population – have diabetes.

Type 2diabetes is the most common form of the condition, accounting for about 90-95 % of all cases. This arises when cells in the body fail to efficiently use the hormone insulin – well-known as insulin resistance – resulting in rise of blood sugar levels.

Type 1 diabetes accounts for about 5-10 % of diabetes cases. It is considered an autoimmune disease, where the immune system mistakenly attacks insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas, resulting in little or no insulin production.

LADA is a sub-type of type 1 diabetes. It is a slow progressing condition that typically develops later in adulthood, generally between the age groups of 30-50 years.

LADA is usually referred to as “type 1.5” diabetes, as it shares some characteristics of both type 1 and type 2; it is considered to be an autoimmune disease like type 1, but it also incorporates insulin resistance like type 2.

Soft drinks and diabetes threat

Previous research has demonstrated    a link between high consumption of sugary drinks and type 2 diabetes; this effect has basically been attributed to the weight gain associated with high sugary drink consumption.

In this latest research, Löfvenborg and team aimed to investigate whether artificially sweetened soft drinks might have the same effect, and whether soft drink consumption – both sugary and artificially sweetened – might affect the development of LADA.

The research included more than 2,800 Swedish adults, of whom 1,136 had type 2 diabetes, 357 had LADA, and 1,137 were healthy controls. The team analyzed the self-reported dietary data of each adult, looking specifically at the number of soft drinks consumed up to 1 year prior to  diabetes diagnosis. Volunteers’ insulin resistance levels, beta cell function, and autoimmune reaction were also assessed.

The  researchers  found that people who reported consuming at least two 200-milliliter servings of soft  drinks a day – regardless of whether they contained sugar or synthetic sweetener – were two times as  likely to develop LADA and 2.4 times more  likely to develop type 2 diabetes,  as compared with those who  consumed fewer than two soft drinks daily.

In addition, adults who  consumed five 200-milliliter servings of soft drinks daily were  found to be at 3.5 times  greater risk of LADA and 10.5 times  greater risk of type 2 diabetes, regardless of whether the drinks were sugary or synthetically sweetened.

Commenting on their research, lead author Josefin Edwall Löfvenborg said,“I would recommend individuals to limit their intake of sugary soft drinks, both considering risk of diabetes and other negative health effects, such as  high calorific value resulting in overweight,  poor dental health and such.

As for artificially sweetened soft drinks, there is no nutritional value in consuming them. But even though there are suggested mechanisms and accumulating evidence suggesting adverse health effects, I still think we need to investigate this further before making any recommendations.”