If you substitute a glass of water or something unsweetened, say coffee or tea, for just one serving of a sugar-sweetened or dairy beverage per day, you can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by 14% to 25%, according to a British study.
The study concluded that if people who drink sweet beverages reduced the amount of calories they took in from these beverages to below 2% of their total calorie intake, up to 15% of cases of type 2 diabetes might be prevented. Each additional 5% of total calories per day that come from sweetened drinks raised the risk of diabetes by 18%.
These findings are based on a study of beverage consumption of more than 25,000 people aged 40 to 79 living in the United Kingdom who took part in the EPIC-Norfolk study, a large prospective study. They each completed a food diary for a week several times over a 4-year period. The diaries included information about beverages. Nearly all the people in the study drank at least one sweetened drink a day. At their enrollment in the study, no one had type 2 diabetes, but 847 developed diabetes by an average of 10.7 years later.
There was an association found between drinking soft drinks and sweetened milk drinks and developing diabetes. The researchers also found that replacing all sweetened drinks with artificially sweetened drinks did not reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes, but did not raise it either. However, drinking water or unsweetened coffee or tea did reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes. Sweetened tea and coffee did not appear to have any association with incidence of diabetes.
"Our findings suggest that reducing consumption of sweet beverages, in particular soft drinks and sweetened-milk beverages, and promoting drinking water and unsweetened tea or coffee as alternatives may help curb the escalating diabetes epidemic," the authors concluded.
The study was published in the journal Diabetologia and can be read online at http://www.diabetologia-journal.org/files/OConnor.pdf.