Soft Drinks and Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Increase Risk of Diabetes by Over 25%

soda pop on shelves at grocery storeFor those who’re concerned about their health, a new research study quantifies the risk of developing diabetes associated with consuming soft drinks and sugar-sweetened drinks such as fruit drinks, iced tea, energy drinks, and vitamin water.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston published the results of their meta-analysis or review study in the journal, Diabetes Care [1].  Though regular consumption of these beverages has already been associated with weight gain and an increased risk of obesity, the role of sugar-sweetened beverages in the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes and the metabolic syndrome has not been previously quantified.

Previous studies have shown that both the incidence of obesity as well as type 2 diabetes has been increasing at an alarming rate.  The comorbidity between the two has even lead to the coining of a new word, diabesity.  At the same time, consumption of beverages including soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks, and also sugar-sweetened beverages such as iced tea and vitamin water has also risen.  Some of these beverages contain as much as 10 teaspoons of sugar per 12 ounce serving.

Based on the data from the 11 studies included in their analysis comprised of over 310,000 participants and 15,000 cases of diabetes, the researchers compared intake of sugar-sweetened beverages (in highest and lowest quartiles) to the risk of developing diabetes and the metabolic syndrome.

What they found was that individuals in the highest quartile of intake who typically consume 1-2 servings per day had a 26% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those in the lowest quartile who consumed less than 1 serving per month.  In addition, the risk of developing the metabolic syndrome was found to be 20% higher.

From this data, the researchers concluded:

“In addition to weight gain, higher consumption of SSBs is associated with development of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. These data provide empirical evidence that intake of SSBs should be limited to reduce obesity-related risk of chronic metabolic diseases.”

How many sugar-sweetened beverages do you consume per day?


  1. Malik VS, Popkin BM, Bray GA, Després JP, Willett WC, Hu FB. Sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis. Diabetes Care. 2010 Nov;33(11):2477-83. Epub 2010 Aug 6.

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