While a lot of people consider drinking diet coke as a healthy option, a recent study suggests that it may increase a person’s risk of developing diabetes.
The particular research, a Swedish cohort study, focused on the consumption of sweetened drinks by people diagnosed with Type-II diabetes, over the past year. The researchers also looked at people having LADA (latent autoimmune diabetes). LADA shares some features that are similar to Type-I and II diabetes. Both of these groups were compared to a control, diabetes-free, group of participants.
The results from the research showed that consuming more than 2 glasses of sweetened drinks in a day had a link to doubling the risk of diabetes. The result was similar with regards to Type-II diabetes when analyzing diet and sweetened drinks separately. The results weren’t statistically significant with regards to a possible link present with LADA.
While the results hold significance, scientists couldn’t bring forward a cause-and-effect relationship between diabetes and sweetened drinks. Smoking, having a poor diet, and other unhealthy lifestyle factors may also play a role.
Increased thirst is a major symptom of diabetes. So, it might be possible that in some cases diabetes occurred first which then led to an increased consumption of such drinks.
The current study was conducted by a team of researchers from the Karolinska Institutet (Stockholm) along with other institutions present in Sweden and Finland. The Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, AFA Insurance and the Swedish Diabetes Association provided funds for the current study. The research was published in the European Journal of Endocrinology.
It is important to note that the results from the study showed a significant link between drinking more than two drinks a day and onset of diabetes. No similar link was observed in people who consumed only two or even fewer sweetened drinks of any type per day.
In order to conduct the current study, data from ESTRID (Epidemiological Study of Risk Factors for LADA and Type 2 Diabetes) was used. ESTRID started back in 2010. The researchers invited individuals that had LADA or Type-II diabetes. They used the Swedish diabetes registry in order to do so. A random group of people over 35 years of age was created to act as a diabetes-free control.
All of the participants were asked to complete a health and lifestyle questionnaire. The said questionnaire was used to gain information about physical activity, weight, height, intake of alcohol, family history of diabetes, smoking, and education level. All of these factors, during the study, were considered to be potential cofounders.
Participants were also asked to complete a food frequency questionnaire that had 132-items. They were asked to report the normal food consumption during the preceding year. A total of three questions were about the consumption of sweetened drinks such as cola, diet cola, and other soda or soft drinks. Participants also shared the number of servings (200ml) of such drinks they drank daily as well as in a week. Questions that had to do with fruit juice weren’t analyzed during the study.
A total of 1,136 participants had Type-II diabetes, 357 had LADA, and a total of 1,371 participants served as the diabetes-free control. The average age of participants having LADA and those who were diabetes-free was 59. The average age of participants with Type-II diabetes was 68 years old.
The results from the study revealed that increased consumption of sweetened beverages was linked to an increased risk of suffering from diabetes.
More research is needed in order to further understand the link between diabetes and consuming more than two glasses of sweetened drinks per day, and applying these results to other non-Swedish populations.