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Sodas Linked to Diabetes in Women

A study finds sugary soft drinks may increase the risk. An industry group disputes the conclusions.

August 25, 2004|From Associated Press

CHICAGO — Women who drink more than one sugary soft drink a day are slightly more likely to develop diabetes than women who drink less than one a month, according to a study.

But critics of the study noted that the same conclusion might be drawn from examining eating habits involving other forms of junk food.

Obesity is strongly linked to Type 2 diabetes -- the most common form -- so the extra calories from soda account for at least some of the increased risk, said the Harvard University researchers who did the study. But the scientists said there appeared to be a link to the way the body handled the sugars in sodas -- a claim two outside experts said needed more research.

A soft drink trade group said the study's conclusions were not scientifically sound and that the focus should be on the unhealthy lifestyles and weight gain that could lead to diabetes.

Globally, Type 2 diabetes, a condition that often leads to heart disease and kidney failure, afflicts 154 million people and is blamed for about 3 million deaths a year.

The soft drink study, which appeared in Tuesday's Journal of the American Medical Assn., involved an analysis of data from a continuing health study of 51,603 female nurses.

Researchers analyzed surveys filled out by the nurses in 1991, 1995 and 1999 detailing their eating habits, weight, physical activity and other health issues. There were 741 new cases of Type 2 diabetes during the span.

The scientists suggested that in addition to extra calories, the beverages might increase diabetes risk because their high amount of rapidly absorbed sugars caused a dramatic rise in glucose and insulin concentrations in the body, said Dr. Walter Willett, one of the study's coauthors.

Two diabetes experts not associated with the study said it was well conducted, but they cautioned against making a direct connection between the sugars found in soda and diabetes risk without more research.

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