Science-- there's something for everyone

Monday, April 29, 2013

Bad news about sugary soft drinks

You already know that soft drinks are bad for you. But a single daily indulgence can’t be that bad can it? Sorry. According to a new study by the scientists in the InterAct Consortium at the Imperial College London, one sugar-sweetened soft drink per day can increase your risk of getting type 2 diabetes by 22%. 

From 1991 to 2007, the InterAct project collected data on hundreds of thousands of people from eight European countries. None of the participants had type 2 diabetes when first recruited. By the end, over 12,000 of them did. These people were compared with 16,000 randomly selected non-diabetics.

The researchers asked the subjects about their consumption of sweet beverages, which were divided into juices and nectars (fruits or vegetables plus up to 20% added sugar) and soft drinks (sugar-sweetened or artificially sweetened). Participants were asked how often they consumed these sweet drinks, from less than one serving per month to at least one per day. A serving size was twelve fluid ounces, or 336 ml. Among other factors, the researchers adjusted for total calorie intake, body mass index (BMI), gender, educational level, physical activity and use of alcohol and/or tobacco. 

The bad news is that drinking at least one sugar-sweetened soft drink per day increased a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 29%, compared with consuming fewer than one such beverage per month. The worse news is that the diabetes risk jumped by 22% when going from one to six drinks per week to one or more drinks per day. Because these categories were so broad, this could mean increasing from one drink per week to one per day, or from six per week to several per day. Either way, your safest bet is to consume fewer than one sugary soft drink per week. 

The good news is that after accounting for BMI, there was no such association with either artificially sweetened soft drinks or with juices and nectars. So, if you really can’t palate plain water, you do have some options, at least as far as type 2 diabetes is concerned. I’ve written before about another peril of sugary drinks.

Here’s one more interesting thing. From 1992 to 2000, Europeans got about 2.5% of their daily carbohydrates from sugary drinks. For people in the U.S., that figure was over 10%. I’m amazed, and not in a good way.

The InterAct consortium (2013). Consumption of sweet beverages and type 2 diabetes incidence in European adults: results from EPIC-InterAct. Diabetologia PMID: 23620057.


  1. very interesting. Any idea if the study was done using drinks sweetened with corn syrup or sugar? Just wondering if that would have any effect on the outcomes.

  2. The drinks were referred to as 'sugar-sweetened' and I think European sodas are still mostly made with sugar rather than corn-syrup. So, it probably was sugar.

  3. BTW, all the commentary that I read stated that this paper claimed that EACH additional daily soda raised your risk of type 2 diabetes by 22%. That is, going from zero to one or from one to two. However, the data presented in the paper did not support that because the top two categories were one to six drinks per week and one or more drinks per week.