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24-03-2011 | Diabetes | Article

Sugary drinks raise diabetes risk in men


Free abstract

MedWire News: Consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks significantly increases a person's risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, suggest results from the Health Professionals Follow-Up study.

These results, although in men only, confirm those of earlier studies carried out in men and women, as previously reported by MedWire News.

Frank Hu (Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA) and colleagues calculated cumulative mean intakes of sugar-sweetened and artificially-sweetened drinks in 40,389 men over 20 years of follow-up. This data was obtained from food-frequency questionnaire information collected every 4 years.

Incident Type 2 diabetes over this period was also recorded, with 2680 cases observed in total. Following adjustment for age, family history, body mass index (BMI), and other confounders, men in the top quartile (4.5 drinks a week to 7.5 a day) for sugar-sweetened drink consumption had a significant 24% increased risk for diabetes compared with men in the bottom quartile (never consumed).

Prior to adjustment for confounders, men who consumed artificially sweetened drinks also had a significantly increased risk for diabetes, but this became nonsignificant after adjustment.

Hu and team say that the latter association was largely attributable to health status, pre-enrollment weight change, dieting, and BMI.

The team estimated that replacing one serving (approximately 237 ml) of a sugar-sweetened drink per day with a cup of unsweetened coffee of a similar volume would reduce the risk for diabetes by 17%.

"While substituting sugar-sweetened for artificially sweetened beverages was not associated with excess risk, controversy still surrounds their use," write the authors.

"Aspartame is hypothesized to increase the risk of neurologic deficits or cancer because of its conversion to methanol and formaldehyde. However, no convincing data have been published to validate this hypothesis."

Hu and co-workers suggest that further research on the safety of artificially sweetened drinks is warranted.

The results of this study are published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Helen Albert