May Increase Female Diabetes Risk
Chugging more than one sugar-sweetened
soft drink a day appears to significantly increase a woman's chances
of developing diabetes, says a Harvard study that found the extra
sugar does more than just add pounds.
Women in the study who drank at
least one sugar-sweetened soda a day were 85 percent more likely
to develop type 2 diabetes than those who drank less, said Matthias
B. Schulze, who presented the Harvard School of Public Health
research at the American Diabetes Association's 64th scientific
In addition to the sodas' excess
calories, their large amount of rapidly absorbable sugars could
contribute to obesity and a greater risk of diabetes, said Schulze,
a postdoctorate student from Germany.
"It's not that sugar everywhere
is important, but it seems that sugar specifically in liquid foods
may be relevant," Schulze said. "So, sodas and other energy-providing
drinks may lead to an overconsumption of energy that would lead
to obesity and weight gain."
Diet sodas with sugar substitutes,
however, did not increase the chances of developing diabetes,
Schulze said. He added that the women who drank diet sodas tended
to lose weight.
Diabetes is an illness that develops,
often in middle age, when a body loses the ability to turn blood
sugar into energy. There were 18.2 million Americans 6.3
percent of the population with diabetes in 2002, and it
is the nation's fifth-deadliest disease, says the American Diabetes
Worse yet, diabetes is a growing
problem. The prevalence of diabetes was fairly flat during the
1980s, but nearly doubled from 1990 to 2002.
According to Schulze's study, the
women most prone to gaining weight had increased their consumption
of sugary soft drinks from less than one a week to more than one
a day. On average, those women gained 9-10 pounds in a four-year
period. But women who cut their intake of soft drinks gained an
average of 3 pounds or less.
The research followed more than
91,000 adult women over an eight-year period. It is part of the
Nurses Health Study at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital.
The research comes two months after
the release of a British study showing school programs that discouraged
drinking sodas appeared to be effective in reducing obesity among
Mike Jacobsen, executive director
for the Center for Science in the Public Interest consumer advocacy
group, said he wasn't surprised by the study's findings
but he was pleased.
"It provides ammunition for education
efforts, labeling changes and restricting soft drink consumption
in schools," Jacobsen said.
The National Soft Drink Association
labeled the study as "unconvincing and inconclusive," because
it has yet to be peer-reviewed and raises questions over factors
that could create inaccuracies.
Schulze acknowledged the study's
limitations in that its data came from observations, such as body
weight the women themselves reported.
On the Net:
American Diabetes Association:
Harvard School of Public Health:
Center for Science in the Public
National Soft Drink Association:
Reference Source 102