Diet Sodas, Like Sugary Drinks, Significantly Increase Type 2 Diabetes Risks

Across the United States, people have been substituting regular sugary sodas with diet sodas, assuming it’s a healthier choice. In schools across the nation, rising rates of type 2 diabetes and obesity have resulted in diet sodas replacing sugary sodas in soda pop machines, but does switching to diet offer any protection against the future development of type 2 diabetes?

Researchers are now saying that even diet pop can contribute to type 2 diabetes development, even though diet sodas are free of sugar.

In 2010, soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks became the largest source of calories in the American diet. It’s common knowledge that sugary sodas increase type 2 diabetes risks, but many people still think that diet sodas do not.

The American Diabetes Association recommends that diabetics drink zero- or low-calorie drinks, including diet soda. This controversial recommendation doesn’t mean that drinking diet sodas won’t increase diabetes risks, though. Just because drinking diet soda had the same effect on blood sugar and insulin levels as drinking carbonated water in earlier research, doesn’t mean that diet soda has the same effect on diabetes and diabetes prevention as drinking water, current science indicates.

The San Francisco Gate reported that drinking diet soda at least once a day is linked to a 67 percent higher chance of developing type-2 diabetes and a 36 percent higher risk for metabolic syndrome, citing older studies. So, the idea that even diet soda pop can lead to type 2 diabetes is not new, it’s just not widely accepted.

Many believe that the soda industry’s funding of past studies has ensured that the public views diet soda as a safe way to help avoid type 2 diabetes. A New York Times investigation eventually led to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics announcing that they would no longer accept research funding from Coca-Cola. Previously, according to Mother Jones, the two groups had received $3 million and $1.7 million from the soda giant respectively. The American Diabetes Association was given at least $125,000 in 2012, and $15,000 in 2014 by Coca-Cola, according to Coca-Cola. Last year, the Houston Chapter of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation was given $39,000.

Medical News Today is reminding people that more recent studies keep linking even diet soda to type 2 diabetes.

“Soda, whether regular or diet, is a dietary waste. Sodas have little nutrients, and have a long list of side effects. For people with diabetes, diet soda has been associated with weight gain and symptoms of metabolic syndrome. Some sweeteners in diet soda even cause sugar and insulin spikes in the blood.”

Despite so many families switching to sugar-free soda pops, type 2 diabetes is steadily increasing. According to results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Norfolk Study, every serving of artificially sweetened beverage consumed regularly each day, just as with other soft drinks, increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by approximately 22 percent. Interestingly, fruit juice is not associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, according to that large study.

The recent WHO report on diabetes stated that diabetes directly causes 1.5 million deaths annually, and the figure is likely to rise. Type 1 diabetes was included in that figure, but is less common that type 2 diabetes. There is no currently known way to prevent type 1 diabetes, according to accepted science, but it is known that type 1 diabetes is not caused by unhealthy dietary practices. Over two million additional deaths are caused each year because of higher-than-optimal blood glucose but technically fall into other categories like cardiovascular disease. Almost half of these deaths occur in people before they are 70-years-old.

For a long time, type 2 diabetes was almost never seen in children. According to the WHO report, however, in recent years, children have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in growing numbers. Parents hoping to reduce the risks of their children developing type 2 diabetes are instructed to eliminate all soda pop, including diet soda, from their children’s diets.

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