Health

Type 2 diabetes: How do fructose-sweetened drinks affect risk?

A new review of existing studies published in The BMJ finds that sugary drinks that contain fructose raise the risk of type 2 diabetes more than other fructose-containing foods.

A range of recent studies has pointed out the potential health risks of sugary drinks. Studies have confirmed that there is a link between sugary drinks and obesity, as well as cautioning that as few as two sugary drinks per week may raise the risk of type 2 diabetes considerably.

Now, a comprehensive review of existing research confirms that fructose-containing drinks can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes more than other foods that contain fructose.

Dr. John Sievenpiper, a researcher in the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada, is the lead author of the study.

In their paper, Dr. Sievenpiper and colleagues quote other studies which have focused on fructose in particular as a threat to cardiometabolic health.

Although some research has suggested that fructose might be a good alternative to sugar, especially for people who are already living with diabetes, more recent studies have pointed out that “fructose could be particularly detrimental to metabolic health, and even more so than other sugars.”

As the researchers explain, fructose is a natural ingredient in several foods, such as fruits, natural fruit juice, honey, and even some vegetables. However, some food manufacturers artificially add the compound to soft drinks, desserts, cereals, and other baked foods.

In the new study, Dr. Sievenpiper and team wanted to see how different “food sources of fructose-containing sugars” affected the glycemic control of both people with diabetes and people who do not have the condition.

 

Foods with fructose and metabolic health

To find out, the researchers analyzed the conclusions of 155 studies that looked at how different food sources affected peoples’ blood sugar levels. The researchers followed the participants, some of whom had diabetes, for up to 3 months.

During this time, the researchers also assessed the participants’ glycated hemoglobin — that is the amount of sugar that is attached to red blood cells — as well as their glucose and insulin levels after a period of fasting.

Dr. Sievenpiper and team divided the 155 controlled intervention studies into four groups based on their design.

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