Sugary soft drinks should carry cigarette-style health warnings on their packaging, according to experts. Scientists have warned that drinking one can of soft drink a day can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes by a fifth.
A major study by Imperial College London found the risk rose by as much as 22 per cent for every 12oz serving of sugar-sweetened drink – a typical can – consumed per day.
Soft drinks have previously been linked with weight gain and obesity – a well-known trigger for type 2 diabetes – but researchers say the effect goes beyond body weight and may be caused by an increase in insulin resistance.
Other research has shown that sugary drinks can damage the liver and kidneys and are linked to the risk of developing cancer or dementia.
There are growing concerns that fizzy drinks and sweet juices could be more dangerous for health than previously thought.
Professor Barry Popkin of the University of North Carolina told the Sunday Times: ‘If there is any item in our food supply that acts like tobacco, it is sugared drinks.’
Professor Nick Wareham, who led the Imperial team, told the newspaper: ‘Labels on sugar-sweetened beverages should be explicit about how much sugar they contain and should say that we should limit consumption as part of a healthy diet.’
Previously, American scientist Robert Lustig called for sweetened drinks and food to be regulated in the same way as tobacco.
Dr Lustig, a University of California academic, led a team of scientists for the paper The Toxic Truth About Sugar.
‘This is a war and you didn’t even know you were fighting it,’ he told a nutrition conference last month.
The Imperial study of almost 30,000 people living in eight European countries, including Britain, follows US research which made near-identical findings.
Scientists wanted to determine whether the link held good in Europe, where soft drinks are less popular than in America.
Professor Wareham, of the Medical Research Council’s epidemiology unit, said it was more evidence that people should be cautious about the amount of sugary soft drink they consumed.
He said: ‘This finding adds to growing global literature suggesting that there is a link between consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, obesity and risk of development of type 2 diabetes.
‘This observation suggests that consumption of these beverages should be limited as part of an overall healthy diet.’
Researchers found that the risk of type 2 diabetes rose 22 per cent for people having one 12oz (336ml) serving of sugar-sweetened soft drink a day compared with those not having any.
For those having two soft drinks, it rose a further 22 per cent over those having one drink.
The number of Britons diagnosed with diabetes hit three million this year for the first time – almost one in 20 of the population.
Type 2 diabetes is strongly linked to lifestyle factors such as being overweight or obese, leading a sedentary lifestyle and an unhealthy diet.
It occurs when the body gradually loses the ability to process blood sugar, leading to high levels which can damage body organs and result in years of ill-health.
The latest study used data on consumption of juices and nectars, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and artificially sweetened soft drinks.
It involved 12,403 people with type 2 diabetes and 16,154 without diabetes.
The researchers, led by Dr Dora Romaguera, said a possible reason for the link could be the effect of sugar-sweetened drinks on insulin resistance.
Type 2 diabetes is frequently preceded by an increase in insulin resistance, where the body becomes insensitive to the effects of insulin resulting in high blood sugar levels. Dr Romaguera said: ‘Given the increase in sweet beverage consumption in Europe, clear messages on the unhealthy effect of these drinks should be given to the population.’
Consumption of pure fruit juice and nectar drinks was not implicated in rising diabetes, although the study could not separate out the effect of 100 per cent pure juices from those with added sugars.
Dr Matthew Hobbs, of Diabetes UK, said: ‘The large number of people involved in this study means this finding is extremely unlikely to have happened by chance.’
Gavin Partington, of the British Soft Drinks Association, said: ‘It is well known that diabetes is the result of many different factors, including obesity and family history.
‘Soft drinks are safe to consume but, like all other food and drink, should be consumed in moderation.’
The study was published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.
2013 Miles in 2013
I am doing my 2013 miles in 2013 challenge in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust as I have been surprised since I started fundraising for the CF Trust just how many people are unaware of this disease and so I hope my efforts will not just raise money, but also awareness of the UK’s most most common life-threatening inherited disease.
The first person to commit to sponsoring my 2013 mile challenge has committed to 1p per mile (£20.13 in total) and this got me thinking. I am hoping that as many as possible of those reading this will commit to do the same and the best thing is, if each person does this on a “pay as you go” type approach all you will need to part with is approx £2 just after each pay day. In January I completed 205.9 miles, in February I completed a further 200.9 miles, in March I completed 185.7 miles and in April I completed 192.1 miles. If you can please spare £7.85 to help the Cystic Fibrosis Trust it will be greatly appreciated.
The easiest way to give your sponsorship is to visit my Just Giving page: http://www.justgiving.com/2012-AYearWithoutBeer-CF.
2013 Miles in 2013 – The rules
The rules for my 2013 miles in 2013 challenge are quite simple:
- All miles must be completely self powered (no motors, sails, etc)
- I must be able to evidence all miles, either via GPS or with a picture of any static gym equipment
To complete my 2013 miles I will be running, cycling, rowing and who knows, I might even try a few other self powered methods along the way.