Sugar intake directly linked to type 2 diabetes
The finding, which goes against the popular belief that sugar plays an indirect role in the development of diabetes by triggering obesity, comes from research which found an association between sugar availability and diabetes incidence in 175 countries that could not be explained by obesity or total calorie intake.
Scientists from the Stanford University School of Medicine, the University of California-Berkeley, and the University of California-San Francisco looked at changes in the amount of sugar in countries' food supply between 2000 and 2010 and compared this data with rates of diabetes over the decade.
After accounting for obesity, they found that the greater the amount of sugar in a nation's diet, the higher the country's diabetes rate.
The results showed that for every 150 calories of sugar available per person per day, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes rose by around 1%, even after adjusting for overweight and obesity rates, other food types, total calories in the food supply, ageing and income.
"In countries where sugar availability was going up, we saw increasing rates of diabetes, and in countries where sugar availability was going down we saw decreasing rates of diabetes," said senior author Prof Robert Lustig.
The findings support the theory that calories from sugar have a greater impact on the risk of type 2 diabetes compared to calories from other sources. But because the study examined data from whole populations rather than individuals, it cannot prove that a high-sugar diet causes diabetes.
Charity group Diabetes UK said the research should be treated with caution, while Sugar Nutrition UK, which represents British sugar producers, dismissed the findings, revealing that British consumption of sugar has fallen by 6% over the past decade while prevalence of diabetes has doubled during the same period.
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