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Another Strike Against Liquid Sugar

Drinking more sweet beverages of any type may bump up diabetes risk.

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Sugary drinks

A 2019 study published in Diabetes Care found that increasing total consumption of sugary beverages, which included 100% fruit juice, by more than 0.5 servings/day (about 4 ounces) over 4 years was linked to a 16% higher risk for type 2 diabetes, compared with maintaining steady intake. This was after adjusting for variables such as body mass index, other dietary changes and lifestyle habits.

Raising artificially sweetened beverage intake by half a serving or more over the same time period was shown to up the chances of developing diabetes by 18%; however, the researchers cautioned that people already at high risk for diabetes may switch from sugary beverages to diet drinks, potentially influencing the statistics through reverse causation.

The scientists estimated that replacing one daily serving of a sugary drink with water, coffee or tea, but not with an artificially sweetened drink, may reduce diabetes risk by up to 10%. Although fruit juices do contain some nutrients, consumption should be moderated, given that juices have a much higher concentration of sugar than whole fruit.

The study analyzed data from 192,352 men and women.

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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