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Sugary Drinks Increase the Risk of Diabetes, Metabolic Conditions

Drinking as few as 2 sugary drinks per week could increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Published Online: Nov 13,2017
Laurie Toich, Assistant Editor
Current dietary guidelines suggest that individuals limit intake of added sugar from foods and drinks. Health experts and organizations advocate that individuals consume fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and limit the intake of processed foods, saturated and trans fats, and added sugars.
                                                                                             
The American Heart Association recommends that added sugars account for no more than half of the daily discretionary calorie allowance due to concerns such as weight gain; however, many Americans do not adhere to these guidelines.

New findings from a study published by the Journal of the Endocrine Society suggest frequent consumption of sweetened beverages—including soda and juice—may increase the risk of diabetes, hypertension, and other conditions.

Notably, the authors discovered an association between sugar-sweetened drinks and metabolic syndrome, including abdominal obesity, high triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and low high-density lipoprotein levels. These factors have been found to increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

“Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption is steadily rising among all age groups worldwide,” said senior author, M. Faadiel Essop, PhD. “Our analysis revealed that most epidemiological studies strongly show that frequent intake of these beverages contributes to the onset of the metabolic syndrome, diabetes and hypertension.”

Included in the analysis were 36 previous studies investigating the cardiometabolic effects of sugary drinks. A majority of studies included individuals who consumed more than 5 sugary beverages per week.

The authors found that most studies support a link between high-sugar drinks and metabolic syndrome; however, there were a few studies that suggested a negative or neutral relationship.

Of the studies that evaluated the impact of sugary beverages on diabetes, the authors discovered that consuming as few as 2 drinks per week increased the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Additionally, multiple studies found that consuming 1 sugary drink per week increased blood pressure, which may impact cardiovascular health.

These findings suggest that sugar-sweetened drinks may increase the risk of metabolic disease and individuals should significantly limit their intake of the drinks, according to the study.

“The findings demonstrate there is a clear need for public education about the harmful effects of excess consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages,” Dr Essop said. “But our understanding of this topic would benefit from additional research to further clarify how sugar-sweetened beverages affect our health. We do see some limitations in the current research on this topic, including a need for longer-term studies and standardized research methods.”