Reviewed by Matthew Hoffman on January 22, 2009


C. Ronald Kahn, MD - President / Director, Joslin Diabetes Center; Mary K Iacocca Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School. His discoveries in insulin signals/receptors revolutionized diabetes research.

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Video Transcript

Narrator: Could eating too much sugar cause diabetes?

C. Ronald Kahn, M.D. President and Director, Joslin Diabetes Center: Eating a lot of sugar definitely does not cause diabetes, if you don't eat so much sugar that you gain weight.

C. Ronald Kahn, M.D. (cont.): And in fact, sugar to a certain extent, is okay because it stimulates the pancreas to make more insulin which actually helps control the blood sugar. And so, actually you need a certain amount of carbohydrate in your diet to have your pancreas working normally.

C. Ronald Kahn, M.D. (cont.): What I always tell people is that, especially if you're at risk for diabetes, I have people tell me all the time, that I've got a family history of diabetes. I watch how much sugar I eat. And I say that that's not the right focus. The focus for you should be to make sure you keep your weight down, because people who have a family history of diabetes, if they stay thin, have no more risk of diabetes than the general population.

C. Ronald Kahn, M.D. (cont.): But if they become overweight, then their risk is 10 times higher than in the general population. So you can make a difference ten fold in your risk of diabetes if you've got a family history. If you stay thin, it's good, if you gain weight it's bad.