American researchers have revealed that women who drink higher amounts of sugar-sweetened beverages have an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes and gaining weight.
Their findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reveal that the prevalence of diabetes and obesity has increased rapidly during the last decades, coinciding with an increase in soft drink consumption, which is a leading source of added sugars in the diet of Americans and may increase the risk of diabetes.
Increased consumption of fruit punch was also associated with greater weight gain, as women consuming 1 or more sugar-sweetened soft drinks per day had a 83 percent increased risk for type 2 diabetes compared with those who consumed less than 1 of these beverages per month. Similarly, consuming one drink or more per day of fruit punch was associated with twice the risk for diabetes compared with consuming less than one drink of fruit punch per month, according to Asian News International.
The study of more than 50,000 U.S. nurses found that those who drank one soda or fruit punch a day tended to gain much more weight than those who drank less than one a month and had more than an 80 percent increased risk of developing the most common form of diabetes. The risk pertained to drinks sweetened with either sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.
Although previous studies linked such drinks to obesity and diabetes, the association has been the subject of intense debate as health activists have fought to ban soft-drink vending machines from schools and the sugar industry has lobbied against dietary guidelines that discourage sugar consumption by children and adults.
The new study is by far the largest and best-designed and one of the first to examine the issue in adults.
"The message is: Anyone who cares about their health or the health of their family would not consume these beverages," said Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health, who helped conduct the study. "Parents who care about their children's health should not keep them at home."
Neither diet soft drinks nor nonsweetened fruit juices appeared to carry the same risks, the researchers found. Although the study involved only women, researchers think the risks also hold for men.
Other experts agreed, saying the study represented a milestone in the debate over soft-drink consumption, which has skyrocketed in the past 20 years in parallel with the rising obesity epidemic.
The sugar and beverage industries said the study was flawed. "The conclusions from this study are scientifically unsound and they are at odds with all that's known in the scientific community," said Richard Adamson, vice president for scientific and technical affairs at the American Beverage Association. "These allegations are inflammatory."
Among the study's many problems, Adamson said, the researchers failed to take into consideration other variables that could account for the apparent risk. Women who drink a lot of soda may simply have generally unhealthy lifestyles, he said.
"If they would have adjusted for all the confounding factors, they would not have found any risk at all," he said. Any increased risk for diabetes in the study could be attributed to the weight the women gained, not their sugar intake, said Charles Baker, vice president for scientific affairs for the Sugar Association. "It's not about sugar. It's about calorie imbalance," he said.
But other nutrition experts hailed the research.
Diabetes, a chronic blood-sugar disorder that puts victims at risk for a variety of serious complications, is becoming increasingly common in the United States. Complications include heart disease, strokes, kidney disease and blindness.
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Drinking just one soda a day nearly doubles a woman's risk of developing diabetes, a new study has found, providing the strongest evidence to date that a penchant for sugary Big Gulps may spell big trouble for a person's health.
In a landmark study of more than 50,000 women, all nurses, researchers determined soft drinks not only set the women up for weight gain, they dramatically increased the likelihood of their developing type 2 diabetes. Fruit punch was also linked to higher rates of diabetes among the women, while fruit juice was largely vindicated in the study, which appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The scientists found that women who drank one or more sugar-sweetened beverages a day had an 83 percent increased risk for type 2 diabetes, compared with women who consumed less than one soda per month.
Diabetes has long been linked to obesity, physical inactivity and advanced age. But today's research makes the strongest point yet that sugary sodas may also play a role, reports Knight Ridder.
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