The consumption of sugary food and drinks has long been known to have its negative health effects, and doctors constantly remind patients that too much of it can lead to serious illnesses, like diabetes.

A new study found sugary drinks to be the cause of 8,000 new cases of type 2 diabetes each year.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge analyzed data from studies in the United States and United Kingdom and found a large number of sugar-sweetened beverage consumers among both populations.

54.4 percent of those in the US, and 49.4 percent in the UK are regular consumers of sugary drinks. In a span of 10 years, cases of diabetes in the US add up to more than 1.8 million and total to around 79,000 in the UK.

Linking sugar-sweetened drinks to diabetes, the researchers found that 13 percent of reported cases in the US and 2 to 6 percent in the UK were caused by the unhealthy drinks.

The analysis also found that people who are obese are more likely to consume drinks that are sugar-sweetened or artificially sweetened. Healthier people tend to drink more fruit juice.

Sweetened beverages included soft drinks and even sugar-sweetened fruit juice, unlike low or non-caloric drinks. Twelve ounces of a regular Coke, for example, has 39 grams of sugar. That is equivalent to 9.75 teaspoons of sugar.

Artificially sweetened beverages are labeled as low-caloric drinks, like your regular diet soda. Fruit juice, on the other hand, was assessed independent of fruit drinks, and defined as 100 percent fruit juice.

The researchers noticed that out of all these drinks, sugar-sweetened beverages had the most negative effects to diabetes. However, although artificially sweetened drinks and fruit juice showed some sort of positive link to type 2 diabetes, the researchers do not recommend them as alternatives in preventing the illness.

The researchers emphasize the need for more studies to actually determine cause and effect, but also stress that a reduce in the consumption of sugary drinks will also potentially result in more positive health benefits.

To prevent type 2 diabetes, a healthy diet and lifestyle is still the best way to go.

Photo: Leo Hidalgo | Flickr

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