Frank Hu, MD, PhD, MPH: Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Increase Risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
By: Almas Eftekhari
Did you know that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has more than doubled in the United States within the last 40 years?
This surge is mainly due to the popularity of carbonated soft drinks. These types of beverages, which also include fruit juices, sweetened teas, sports and energy drinks, are the primary source of added sugar in the U.S. diet. When consumed regularly, the sugary drinks pose serious health risks for both adults and children. Recent research shows that people who regularly consume sugar-sweetened beverages are not only more likely to become overweight or obese, but are also at a greater risk of developing chronic metabolic diseases.
An analysis conducted by an American Diabetes Association-funded researcher, Frank Hu, MD, PhD, MPH., shows that regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is strongly associated with developing type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Providing the first quantitative confirmation of this link, Dr. Hu and fellow researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health analyzed data from eleven different studies with 310,819 individuals evaluated for diabetes and 19,431 for metabolic syndrome. Results showed that participants who drank one to two 12 ounce servings per day increased their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 26% and of developing metabolic syndrome increased by 20%, compared to those who drank less than one serving per month.
"The association that we observed between soda consumption and risk of diabetes is likely a cause-and-effect relationship because other studies have documented that sugary beverages cause weight gain, and weight gain is closely linked to the development of type 2 diabetes," said Dr. Hu, senior author of the study published in the November 2010 edition of Diabetes Care.
Apart from overall weight gain, the authors also consider that since these liquid carbohydrates are usually consumed in fairly high quantities and can quickly raise blood-sugar levels, the drinks may lead to insulin resistance and glucose intolerance—both of which are linked to type 2 diabetes. The researchers recommend that consumers "limit consumption of these beverages in place of healthy alternatives such as water to reduce obesity-related chronic disease risk."
(Malik VS, Popkin BM, Bray GA, Despres JP, Willet WC, Hu, FB. Sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis. Diabetes Care. 2010 Nov; 33(11): 2477-2483.)
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