DIABETES development, particularly Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), has previously been shown to correlate with sugary drink intake, however a new study has now alluded to the possibility that artificially-sweetened beverages are just as detrimental to our health.
Published by Josefin Löfvenborg, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Solna, Sweden, and colleagues, this population-based study included 2,874 Swedish adults comprising 1,136 T2DM patients, 357 individuals with latent autoimmune diabetes of adults (LADA, a subtype of T1DM), and 1,137 randomly-selected controls. Results were adjusted for age, sex, family history, lifestyle, diet, and BMI. By analysing self-reported data, the team was able to determine a relative risk of diabetes development with 400 mL soft drink consumption, regardless of whether it was artificially sweetened. With the consumption of ≥2 x 200 mL soft drinks, participants were found to be 2 times and 2.4 times more likely to develop LADA and T2DM, respectively. These risks were dramatically increased in individuals consuming 5 x 200 mL drinks, who were 3.5 and 10.5 times more likely to develop LADA and T2DM, respectively.
Löfvenborg commented that the increased risk of T2DM from artificially sweetened soft drinks could be caused by the appetite being stimulated, leading to greater food intake through the day. It is also possible that the increased risk is a result of people swapping from sugary soft drinks to artificially sweetened diet drinks, thus suggesting that the results could be based upon previous intake of sugary drinks rather than the artificially sweetened drinks studied.
Although often referred to as a subtype of the autoimmune T1DM, the researchers noted their surprise when reporting on the increase in the risk of LADA development. Emphasising this further, Lexplained: “This could mean that the increased risk of developing LADA in relation to soft drink consumption is not directly caused by the immune response killing beta cells, which is what we see in Type 1 diabetes.” However, because this study was dependent on self-reporting data, for an absolute risk to be calculated further studies will need to be carried out to corroborate the results reflected.