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Sugared Soda = Type 2 Diabetes

I've been meaning to blog about this for over a year now, but it's no less interesting now than it was in 2004, and most people with whom I've talked about it haven't heard ot it, so here goes.

According to a long-term study of 91,000 women (story here, study press release here, drinking even one sugared soda per day dramatically increases one's chances of developing adult-onset diabetes. From the story:

The doctors behind one of the nation's most comprehensive public health studies have concluded what most dieters already know: Chugging down sodas packs on the pounds.

The study of more than 90,000 women also suggests that increased consumption of sodas and other sugary drinks may significantly increase the chance of getting adult-onset diabetes, according to the study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association...

The study shows that women who drank one or more sugary drinks a day had an 83 percent greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes than women who drank less than one a month...

Even though researchers adjusted their findings to account for increases in other kinds of foods and snacks, including red meat, french fries, sweets and fruit, and for levels of exercise, smoking rates and other lifestyle issues, the study's authors said it comes down to drinking sodas.

The press release provides more specific information on the link:

More than 91,000 participants who had filled out biennial food frequency questionnaires between 1991 and 1999 were chosen for the study from the Brigham and Women's Hospital-based Nurses' Health Study II. During the eight-year span of the study, 741 new cases of type 2 diabetes were diagnosed. Those who reported drinking sugar-sweetened sodas more than once per day showed an increased risk for type 2 diabetes of more than 80 percent compared to women in the study who drank less than one per month, independent of lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol, physical activity, and dietary habits. Those who drank more than one fruit punch per day showed a nearly doubled risk for type 2 diabetes compared to those in the study who reported drinking less than one per month. The researchers also assessed intake of fruit juice (orange, pineapple or apple juice) and found no increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
In a story on the soft drink industry's response (hint: they didn't like the study), a theory is proposed for what's happening:
[I]n addition to extra calories, the beverages might also increase diabetes risk because their high amount of rapidly absorbed sugars causes a dramatic rise in glucose and insulin concentrations in the body, said Dr. Walter Willett, one of the study's co-authors.

"I think there is a very practical implication of this study, both for weight control and for type 2 diabetes -- keep soda consumption low," said Willett, chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Fruit juice consumption was not associated with diabetes risk, and diet soft drinks were not statistically significant, but sugared fruit punch showed similar results to sugared soda.

So:

  • Bad: Coke, Pepsi, Snapple
  • Good: Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, Diet Snapple, pure fruit juice

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