Study Explores Link Between Diabetes and Soda Drinking

Reporter: Shannon Samson

Harvard researchers tracked the health of thousands of female nurses throughout the 1990's and found that women who regularly drank soft drinks were a whopping 83 percent more likely to develop type two diabetes than women who did not.

And it's not just the calories that are to blame. At around 150 calories a pop, doctors say soda pop is not good for you. Endocrinologist Dr. Zouhair Bibi says, "If you drink one a day, basically, you're going to gain about 15 pounds a year." That's if you change nothing else about your diet, according to Dr. Bibi, who is the Joslin Diabetes Center medical director. He says the larger drinks offered by fast food restaurants and convenience stores can have up to 800 calories, half of the recommended daily calorie intake for sedentary women. And since these liquids aren't satiating, you're taking in more calories on top of that with food.

But it's not just the weight gain that puts you more at risk for diabetes, the research suggests there's something else about sugary sodas that link them to diabetes. Dr. Bibi says "It has the kind of sugar which is easily absorbable, so it shoots the blood sugars really high and that makes the pancreas work harder and makes the pancreas produce more insulin at that one time and that's not physiologic."

New research from the Centers for Disease Control estimates that of the children born in 2000, about one third will develop diabetes over their lifetimes with females having a higher risk. Researchers also say overall the highest lifetime risk is among Hispanics, about half of whom will develop the disease.

Doctors say people at risk for diabetes should consider eliminating sugary sodas, but more importantly, Dr. Bibi says, "We have to understand that diet and exercise and then medicine will take care of the diabetes." With exercise being at the forefront of prevention.

The research also links sugary fruit punch to diabetes. But here's the good news, diet soft drinks do not appear to increase the risk of the disease. Fruit juice doesn't either, but you have to remember juice has calories in it, so you can't have too much.