Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Sugary Drinks May Raise Diabetes Risk

Analysis Shows Link Between Sweetened Beverages and Risk of Diabetes

Industry Comment continued...

In a statement, Storey says: "It is overly simplistic, and simply misleading, to suggest that reducing or eliminating sugar-sweetened beverages from the diet will uniquely lower [the] incidence of serious health conditions such as diabetes or metabolic syndrome."

A critical flaw in the studies analyzed, she says, is that "the authors focus only on the impact of one calorie source --- sugar-sweetened beverages -- on weight, rather than looking at all sources of calories."

A primary risk factor for both diabetes and metabolic syndrome, she says, is obesity, and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce that risk. "And we know that the key to maintaining a healthy weight is balancing calories consumed, regardless of their source, with calories burned."

There's nothing unique, she says, about calories from sugar-sweetened beverages.

The new analysis "confirms what's known" about sugar-sweetened beverages and diabetes risk, says Stephanie Dunbar, RD, MPH, director of clinical affairs for the American Diabetes Association.

"This [new analysis] doesn't give us cause and effect, but I think it solidifies, 'Yes, we think there is an association there."

Beverage Alternatives

Limiting your intake of sugar-sweetened beverages is suggested by Malik and Dunbar. Try sparkling water with a lime wedge as an alternative, Malik says.

"For the general public, there's certainly no benefit from drinking these sugar-sweetened beverages," she says. "Everyone should be discouraged from drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, not just for the risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome."  She cites other research linking sugar-sweetened beverages to tooth decay and heart disease, among other ills.

Sugar-free diet beverages aren't an alternative she would endorse either. "Sure, artificially sweetened beverages are calorie-free for the most part, which is a good thing," she says, "but there are a lot of chemicals in them."

The intense sweet flavor in the artificially sweetened drinks, she says, may condition you to prefer more sweets in the diet.

Dunbar agrees: ''Even if you don't have diabetes, sugar-sweetened beverages are really not healthful."

But habits are hard to break, she tells WebMD. "For people drinking a lot of soda, they are probably not going to switch and drink just water." She suggests a gradual weaning from the sugary drinks. "You can use fruit juice and mix with seltzer or carbonated water. Work it down so you have just a little flavoring in the water."

And when you have to have a sugar-sweetened beverage? "Get the smallest size available," Dunbar says.

1 | 2

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 and you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Woman holding cake
Slideshow
feet
Slideshow
 
man organizing pills
Slideshow
Close up of eye
Slideshow
 

Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections