Americans love big box stores like Sam’s and CostCo where they can buy in bulk. Many families get large boxes of sodas or other sweetened drinks, which only increase the risk for developing diabetes.
Adult Americans who regularly consumed sugar-sweetened beverages (roughly one can of soda per day) had a 46 percent higher risk of developing prediabetes compared to low- or non-consumers over a 14-year period, according to a new epidemiological analysis led by scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University. Higher sugar-sweetened beverage intake was also associated with increased insulin resistance, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
No associations between diet soda consumption and risk of prediabetes or increased insulin resistance were found. However, the research team notes that previous studies on associations between diet soda and risk of type 2 diabetes have produced mixed results, and further studies are needed to reveal the long-term health impact of artificially sweetened drinks. The findings were published in the Journal of Nutrition on Nov. 9.
“Although our study cannot establish causality, our results suggest that high sugar-sweetened beverage intake increases the chances of developing early warning signs for type 2 diabetes. If lifestyle changes are not made, individuals with prediabetes are on the trajectory to developing diabetes,” said senior study author Nicola McKeown, Ph.D., scientist in the Nutritional Epidemiology Program at the USDA HNRCA.
“Our findings support recommendations to limit sugar-sweetened beverage intake, which can be achieved by replacing sugary beverages with healthier alternatives such as water or unsweetened coffee or tea,” added McKeown, who is also an associate professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts. “This is a simple dietary modification that could be of substantial health benefit to people who consume sugary drinks daily and who are at increased risk of diabetes.”
In the current study, McKeown and her colleagues analyzed longitudinal data on 1,685 middle-aged adults over a period of 14 years, obtained from the Framingham Heart Study’s Offspring cohort–a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute-funded program that has monitored multiple generations for lifestyle and clinical characteristics that contribute to cardiovascular disease. Selected participants did not have diabetes or prediabetes during an initial baseline examination and self-reported their long-term sugar-sweetened beverage and diet soda consumption habits through food frequency questionnaires. Sugar-sweetened beverages were defined as colas and other carbonated beverages, and non-carbonated fruit drinks such as lemonade and fruit punch. Fruit juice was not included in the sugar-sweetened beverage category.