Regular consumption of sugary drinks is associated with an increase in risk of type 2 diabetes, regardless of whether or not people are obese, a study shows.

Researchers estimate millions of diabetes cases may be attributable to sugar-laden drinks.

In an analysis that combined results from 17 studies, which represented nearly 230 million US and UK adults, incidence of type 2 diabetes increased by 18% for every extra serving a day of sugar-sweetened beverages such as soft drink or fruit juice with added sugar.

When adjusted for obesity status, the increased risk was 13% per serving.

Artificially sweetened drinks and 100% fruit juice are often considered good substitutes for sugary drinks, but consumption of these also showed an increase in risk of developing diabetes. Although the results were inconclusive for these diet soft drinks and 100% fruit juice, the researchers say they are “unlikely to be healthy alternatives”.

The positive association between sugary drinks and incidence of type 2 diabetes may be due to the high glycaemic load of both sugar and processed fruit juice, the researchers found.

Dr Alasdair Rankin, director of research at Diabetes UK, says the research confirms the importance of limiting the amount of sugar-sweetened drinks, but further investigation is warranted.

“This study adds to evidence that sugary drinks are bad for health and can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes,” he says.

Sheshtyn Paola

Last Reviewed: 23/07/2015

Medical Observer


Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, artificially-sweetened beverages, and fruit juice and incidence of type 2 diabetes: systematic review, meta-analysis, and estimation of population attributable fraction .">BMJ 2015; online 21 July