Sweetened drinks greater diabetes risk than other sugary foods warns St. Mike’s doctor

Sweetened drinks pose a greater risk of type 2 diabetes than most other foods containing fructose, a naturally occurring sugar, finds an evidence review published this week.

The findings suggest that fruit and other foods containing fructose seem to have no harmful effect on blood glucose levels, while sweetened drinks and some other foods that add excess “nutrient poor” energy to diets may have harmful effects.

“These findings might help guide recommendations on important food sources of fructose in the prevention and management of diabetes,” said Dr. John Sievenpiper, the study’s lead author and a researcher in the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre of St. Michael’s Hospital in Canada. “But the level of evidence is low and more high quality studies are needed.”

The role of sugars in the development of diabetes and heart disease attracts widespread debate and increasing evidence suggests that fructose could be particularly harmful to health.

Fructose occurs naturally in a range of foods, including whole fruits and vegetables, natural fruit juices and honey. It is also added to foods, such as soft drinks, breakfast cereals, baked goods, sweets, and desserts as ‘free sugars’.

Current dietary guidelines recommend reducing free sugars, especially fructose from sweetened beverages.

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