By now, most of the health-conscious segment of society knows pretty well that soda is not a healthful choice beverage. It’s more like a snack. Like dessert.
A new study does nothing but cement that notion. It found that regular consumption of soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages is linked with a clear and consistently greater risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
The study appears first online in the journal “Diabetes Care.”
Previous studies have looked at the sugary beverage-diabetes link, and most have found a link to be present. The new study is different in that it pools together all available evidence to give an overall picture of the magnitude of risk involved.
Sugary drinks are very popular in the U.S., and consumption has increased substantially both in the country and around the world. Scientific studies have shown consistent associations with weight gain and risk of obesity. This study is the first large review to link soda with both type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. (The latter is a group of risk factors, such as high blood pressure and excess body fat around the waist, which increase the risk of coronary artery disease, stroke, and diabetes.)
The researchers performed a meta-analysis that pooled 11 studies. They totaled more than 300,000 participants; of these, 15,043 had type 2 diabetes and 5,803 had metabolic syndrome.
The results: drinking one to two sugary drinks per day increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 26% and the risk of metabolic syndrome by 20%, compared with those who consumed less than one sugary drink per month. Drinking one 12-ounce serving per day increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by about 15%.
This link is likely a cause-and-effect relationship, because other studies have documented that sugary beverages cause weight gain, and weight gain is closely linked to the development of type 2 diabetes.
While many factors are at work when someone develops diabetes and metabolic syndrome, there is little question left that sugary soda is one risk factor that we have complete control over. Electing not to drink liquid sugar can have a huge impact on one’s risk of these serious diseases.