A research study by the University of Cambridge has revealed that replacing one serving of sugary drinks with either water or unsweetened tea/coffee can lower the risk of developing diabetes by between 14% and 25%.
The research data is based on 25,000 men and women aged 40-79 living in Norfolk UK. The study required participants to record everything that they ate and drank for 7 consecutive days covering weekdays and weekend days, with particular attention to type, amount and frequency of consumption, and whether sugar was added by the participants. During approximately 11 years of follow-up, 847 study participants were diagnosed with new-onset type 2 diabetes.
“By using this detailed dietary assessment with a food diary, we were able to study several different types of sugary beverages, including sugar-sweetened soft drinks, sweetened tea or coffee and sweetened milk drinks as well as artificially sweetened beverages (ASB) and fruit juice, and to examine what would happen if water, unsweetened tea or coffee or ASB were substituted for sugary drinks,” said Dr Nita Forouhi.
The total energy intake and increased risk of diabetes was dose dependent upon the habitual and daily consumption of soft drinks, and increased the risk of diabetes by 22% per extra serving per day. Consumption of fruit juice and sweetened tea or coffee was not related to diabetes. After further accounting for body mass index and waist girth as markers of obesity, there remained a higher risk of diabetes associated with consumption of both soft drinks and sweetened milk drinks.
“The good news is that our study provides evidence that replacing a daily serving of a sugary soft drink or sugary milk drink with water or unsweetened tea or coffee can help to cut the risk of diabetes, offering practical suggestions for healthy alternative drinks for the prevention of diabetes, said Dr Forouhi.
“Our new findings on the potential to reduce the burden of diabetes by reducing the percentage of energy consumed from sweet beverages add further important evidence to the recommendation from the World Health Organization to limit the intake of free sugars in our diet,” Dr Forouhi concluded
Nita G. Forouhi et al. Prospective associations and population impact of sweet beverage intake and type 2 diabetes, and effects of substitutions with alternative beverages. Diabetologia, April 2015