Are you a cola fiend? Do you gulp down a couple cans of sugary drinks everyday? It's a well-known fact that sodas and other sugar-sweetened drinks are laden with empty calories. So if you're watching your weight, giving up those soft drinks is a smart move. But even if they don't make you fat, overloading on sugary drinks can still cause metabolic problems like diabetes, according to a recent meta-analysis by Harvard School of Public Health.
The researchers found that drinking one to two sugar-sweetened beverages or sodas per day (even vitamin water counts!) increases type 2 diabetes risk by 26 percent, compared with those who consumed less than one sugary drink per month, and metabolic syndrome risk by 20 percent. (Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors -- such as high blood pressure and excess body fat around the waist -- that increase the risk of coronary artery disease, stroke and diabetes.)
Just drinking one can of cola a day (one 12-ounce serving) increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by about 15 percent. Pretty shocking, until you consider another equally shocking fact: The average can of soda contains a whooping 10 teaspoons of sugar.
When you realize how much sugar is packed into these drinks, you can see why regular consumption leads to weight gain, and in turn linked to the development of type 2 diabetes.
Although there are several risk factors for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, cutting back on sugar-sweetened beverages is one of the easiest things you can do to reduce your risk. "People should limit how much sugar-sweetened beverages they drink and replace them with healthy alternatives, such as water, to reduce risk of diabetes as well as obesity, gout, tooth decay, and cardiovascular disease," says lead author Vasanti Malik.