Sugary Soft Drinks May Raise Risk of Diabetes

An Associated Press story on August 25, 2004, reported on a new study which shows women who drink more than one sweetened soft drink a day are slightly more likely to develop diabetes than women who drink less than one a month. Researchers performed the study at Harvard University.

This soft drink study, was published in the August 24th 2004 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association and involved an analysis of information from a continuing health study of 51,603 female nurses. The Harvard researchers analyzed surveys filled out by the nurses in the years 1991, 1995 and 1999. These surveys detailed their eating habits, weight, physical activity and other health issues. The study showed that there were 741 new cases of type 2 diabetes during the span of time covered in the study.

Results showed that women who drank one or more sugar-sweetened soft drinks a day were twice as likely to develop diabetes as women who drank fewer than one a month. The researchers found that even when they considered such factors as weight, diet and lifestyle differences, women drinking sugary sodas were 1.3 times as likely to develop diabetes.

As expected there were many critics of the study. A trade group representing the soft drink industry said the study’s conclusions were not scientifically sound and that the focus should be on the unhealthy lifestyles and weight gain that can lead to diabetes, not the soft drinks.

Dr. Walter Willett, one of the study’s co-authors and chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health stated, “I think there is a very practical implication of this study, both for weight control and for type 2 diabetes keep soda consumption low.”

The study noted that drinking fruit juice was not associated with diabetes risk. It also noted that diet soft drinks were not statistically significant in this study, but sugared fruit punch showed similar results to sugared soda.