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Diet & Nutrition

Good news for sugar lovers

Cut down just one sugary drink a day to prevent diabetes

A new study published today finds that replacing one sugary drink a day with either water or plain tea or coffee can reduce the risk of developing diabetes type II by between 14 and 25 per cent.
The new research, published today in the European diabetes journal Diabetologica, indicates that for each 5 per cent increase in a person’s total energy intake provided by sweet drinks - including soft drinks - the risk of developing type 2 diabetes may increase by 18 per cent.
The study is based on research conducted on 25,000 men and women aged between 40 and 75 living in Norfolk, in the United Kingdom that began in 2004.
The participants recorded everything they ate and drank for seven days noting type, amount and frequency of consumption, and whether sugar was added or not.
During 11 years of follow up interviews, 847 study participants were diagnosed with new-onset type 2 diabetes.Lead scientist Dr Nita Forouhi, of the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, says: “By using this detailed dietary assessment with a food diary, we were able to study several different types of sugary beverages, including sugar-sweetened soft drinks, sweetened tea or coffee and sweetened milk drinks as well as artificially sweetened beverages (ASB) and fruit juice, and to examine what would happen if water, unsweetened tea or coffee or ASB were substituted for sugary drinks.”
The research team found that there was an approximately 22 per cent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes per extra serving per day habitually of each of soft drinks, sweetened milk beverages and ASB consumed, but that consumption of fruit juice and sweetened tea or coffee was not related to diabetes.
The authors also found that if study participants had replaced a serving of soft drinks with a serving of water or unsweetened tea or coffee, the risk of diabetes could have been cut by 14 per cent; and by replacing a serving of sweetened milk beverage with water or unsweetened tea or coffee, that reduction could have been 20–25 per cent.
However, consuming artificially sweetened beverages instead of any sugar-sweetened drinks was not associated with a significant reduction in type 2 diabetes.
Finally, they found that each 5 per cent increase in energy intake (as a proportion of total daily energy intake) from total sweet beverages (soft drinks, sweetened tea or coffee, sweetened milk beverages, fruit juice) was associated with a 18 per cent higher risk of diabetes.
The authors estimated that if study participants had reduced the energy they obtained from sweet beverages new-onset diabetes cases could have been avoided.
“The good news,” says Dr Forouhi, “ is that our study provides evidence that replacing a daily serving of a sugary soft drink or sugary milk drink with water or unsweetened tea or coffee can help to cut the risk of diabetes, offering practical suggestions for the prevention of diabetes”.

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