Replacing one sugary drink with unsweetened tea, water lowers diabetes risk
A new study suggests that replacing one sugary drink, such as soda or sweetened milk, with water or unsweetened tea or coffee can significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Researchers recorded the beverage consumption of 25,639 adults between the ages of 40 and 70 years old in the UK who participated in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Norfolk Study. None of the participants had diabetes at the beginning of the study, and each recorded everything they ate and drank for seven consecutive days. Researchers paid particular attention to the types of beverages the participants consumed and how much and how often they added sugar to their drinks.
Study lead author Dr. Nita Forouhi, of the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, said by using the detailed dietary assessment and food diary, she and her colleagues were able to study several different types of sugary beverages and what would happen if water, unsweetened tea or coffee were substituted for sugary drinks. The participants were then followed up for approximately 11 years after completing the assessments. During the follow-up period, 847 of the participants were diagnosed with new-onset type 2 diabetes.
The study, published in the journal Diabetologia, found that for every 5 percent increase in daily energy that is provided by sugary drinks, the risk of type 2 diabetes increased by up to 18 percent. Each extra daily serving of soft drinks, sweetened milk beverages and artificially sweetened beverages increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by approximately 22 percent.
If one sugary drink were replaced with water or unsweetened tea or coffee, the risk of diabetes decreased by 14 percent. Replacing a sweetened milk beverage reduced the risk by 20 to 25 percent. However, replacing a sugar-sweetened drink with an artificially sweetened drink did not significantly reduce the risk of diabetes.
The study was limited in that it only counted sugar-sweetened beverage consumption at the beginning of the study and did not account for any changes that may have taken place during the follow-up period.
Last year, new research from The Obesity Society concluded that sugar-sweetened beverages contribute to the obesity epidemic in the United States, especially among children. Alternatives to sugar-sweetened beverages include water, 100 percent fruit juice, and unflavored non-fat or low-fat milk.