Sugary drinks increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, even for normal weight people

Tall, short, large, and skinny—sugary drinks are bad for everyone

You’ve probably heard by now that regularly drinking sugary drinks isn’t great for your waistline, but a new study is now showing that soft drinks increase the chance of developing type 2 diabetes. The shocking part: you skinny people are at risk too!  

The study, published in the leading British Medical Journal, finds that people in the habit of drinking one sugar-sweetened beverage—such as soda or sweetened tea—every day, had a dazzling 18 percent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes over a decade. This is compared to people who didn’t consume the sugary, bubbly beverages. After adjusting for weight, the risk of developing diabetes for a normal weight person was still increased by 13 percent.

Even for artificially sweetened drinks, there was a trend towards a connection to diabetes, but it wasn’t significant after the researchers accounted for possible bias in the studies. Still, they mention in the study that artificially sweetened beverages are not safe alternatives for sugar.

These findings together indicate that substituting sugar sweetened drinks with artificially sweetened drinks or fruit juice is unlikely to be the best strategy in reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes: water or other unsweetened beverages are better options.
— Dr Fumiaki Imamura, lead author of the study

Just how much sugar are people drinking?

More than 54 percent of Americans consume sugar-sweetened beverages daily, and 49 percent in the UK, with an average consumption of 284 grams per day—that's equivalent to 10 ounces (3/4 cup) of sugar each day! 

The researchers from the Cambridge University wanted to know how many type 2 diabetes cases might be prevented if people just stopped drinking sugar-sweetened drinks. In the U.S., the team estimated that of the 21 million diabetes cases predicted to occur by 2020, nearly 2 million of these diabetes cases would be prevented if people stopped consuming soda. In the U.K., where 2.6 million cases are predicted by 2020, they estimated that 80,000 of these would be prevented if people stopped drinking sugary drinks.

In a response statement the American Beverage Association simply points out that the study didn’t show causation.

The study definitely adds to evidence however that sugary drinks are bad for your health and wellness and can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, but further work and investigation is need to fully understand the extent of this. There is very strong evidence that a healthy diet, together with regular physical activity, can help maintain a healthy weight and so help prevent type 2 diabetes.

Corporate wellness programs can help

Organization can encourage employees towards better wellness by curbing or limiting the availability of soft drinks in canteens and break rooms. When our team at Tupelo partners with a company or school to jumpstart their wellness program, the easy access to sugary beverages is one thing we always want to call attention to.

In the meantime, it probably won’t hurt you to step away from that soda and grab a fresh glass of water. Your body will thank you later