Researchers in France have revealed that diet or ‘light’ soft drinks may put consumers at a considerably higher risk of type 2 diabetes .
A study of more than 66,000 women, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that those who drank artificially sweetened soft drinks were much more likely to develop the disease than those who consumed regular, ‘full fat’ versions.
Regular soft drinks – those that contain regular table sugar- have previously been linked with an increased diabetes risk, but the new findings are the first to associate the condition with drinks containing artificial sweeteners, which are often marketed as ‘healthier’ alternatives.
For the study, more than 66,000 middle-aged French women were followed by experts from the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in France for an average of 14 years and regularly quizzed on their drinking habits.
The team found that women who drank either regular or diet soft drinks had an elevated risk of type 2 diabetes compared to those who only consumed unsweetened fruit juice.
The increased risk was about a third for those who drank up to 359 ml of soft drink – just more than one can – per week, and more than double among those who consumed up to 603 ml each week.
However, the results also showed that, contrary to popular belief, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes was even greater for women who drank diet beverages only – 15% higher for consumption of 500 ml/week and 59 per cent higher for consumption of 1.5 litres/week.
The study took into account factors such as the women’s age and body size, but the authors admitted that their research was limited as eating habits were not closely monitored and “may have changed over time.
“We cannot rule out that factors other than ASB (artificially sweetened beverages) are responsible for the association with diabetes,” they said, adding that further studies examining the effects of ASBs need to be carried out before any results may be confirmed.

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