Study Findings Add to Reasons to Stop Drinking Sugary Drinks

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • Already starting to think about potential New Year’s resolutions? Here’s one for you – cut down or even out sugary beverages. Your health will thank you!

    A new study of Harvard University looked at whether caffeinated beverages as well as caffeine-free beverages were associated with type 2 diabetes. These drinks included coffee, tea, sugar-sweetened beverages and carbonated artificially sweetened beverages. They found that sugar-sweetened beverages were linked to an increased risk of diabetes.

    The researchers looked at data collected from 74,749 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and 39,059 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study who did not have diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer at the start of the study. Both were longitudinal studies that lasted for more than 20 years.

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    The researchers’ analysis found that consuming caffeinated and caffeine-free sugar-sweetened beverages were significantly more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than participants who didn’t drink these types of beverages.


    Furthermore, drinking caffeine-free carbonated artificially sweetened beverages also was associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. The researchers found that women who drank caffeinated sugary beverages had a 13 percent higher risk of developing diabetes while women who consumed decaffeinated sugary drinks saw their risk increase by 11 percent.  Furthermore, caffeinated-free artificially sweetened drinks were found to raise types 2 diabetes risk by six percent in women. Men who drank caffeinated sugary beverages had a 16 percent increase in risk of this disease while those who drank decaffeinated sugary beverages saw their risk increase by 23 percent.

    Interestingly, participants who drank coffee had a slightly lower risk of this condition than those who didn’t drink coffee. Women who drank regular coffee or decaffeinated coffee had an eight-percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Men who drank decaffeinated coffee had a seven-percent lower risk while men who consumed caffeinated coffee had a four-percent lower risk.
    On the flip side, the researchers found that drinking caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee as well as caffeinated tea was linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

    So how are sugar-sweetened beverages defined? According to a Boston Public Health Commission fact sheet, these drinks have any type of sugar added, which can be listed as high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, sucrose, honey, brown sugar, cane sugar, dextrose and corn sweetener. And the commission notes this beverage category includes more than just soda. Other drinks in this classification include juice drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened milk or milk alternatives, sweetened tea or coffee drinks, and other carbonated soft drinks.

    Need more reasons? The Boston Public Health Commission points out the following:

    • Consuming large quantities of sugar-sweetened beverages also increases the risk of weight gain, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure and gout, which is a type of arthritis that causes sudden and severe pain, redness and tenderness in joints, often in the big toe.
    • A child’s risk of becoming obese increases by a whopping 60 percent with each additional sugar-sweetened beverage consumed daily.
    • Children who consume carbonated sugar-sweetened beverages have approximately 50 percent increased risk of cavities.
    • If you drink a typical 20-ounce soda, you’re consuming approximately 16 teaspoons of sugar as well as 250 calories. If you’re going to burn off these calories, you’ll need to walk for 45 minutes at a brisk pace.
    • Most sugar-sweetened beverages don’t provide any nutritional benefit.

    So what should you try to drink instead of these types of beverages? The Harvard School of Public Health recommends six beverages:

    • Infused water with herbs, citrus fruits or zest, ginger or cucumber.
    • Tea.
    • Coffee.
    • Sparking water with a splash of juice.
    • Fresh fruit coolers.
    • Low-sodium broth or miso.

    Primary Sources for This Sharepost:

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    Bhupathiraju, S. N., et al. (2012). Caffeinated and caffeine-free beverages and risk of type 2 diabetes. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

    Boston Public Health Commission. (nd). Health effects of sugary drinks.

    Boston Public Health Commission. (2011). Sugar-sweetened beverages, obesity, and chronic disease fact sheet.

    Harvard School of Public Health. (nd). Six ideas for low-sugar drinks.

Published On: November 23, 2012