Sweetened fruit drinks are often marketed as a healthier alternative to non-diet soft drinks but are just as likely to cause weight gain and increase the risk of diabetes, researchers said on Monday.
"The public should be made aware that these drinks are not a healthy alternative to soft drinks with regard to risk of type 2 diabetes," Julie Palmer and colleagues at Boston University wrote in their report, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, is closely linked to obesity and has become more common worldwide.
The findings came from a look at nearly 44,000 black women in the United States who were checked from 1995 through 2005.
Those who said they drank two or more non-diet soft drinks a day had a 24 percent increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes than those in the study who drank fewer than one regular soft drink per month, the research team said.
Women who drank two or more sweetened fruit drinks per day had a 31 percent increased risk compared to those who drank fewer than one such fruit drink a month. Diet soft drinks, grapefruit juice and orange juice were not linked to a higher diabetes risk, the researchers said.
While pure orange and grapefruit juices also contain sugars naturally, they may have a different metabolic effect or may be more likely to be consumed as part of a meal, the investigators said.
Soft drinks and sweetened juices are often consumed between meals and may lead to snacking, they said.
An earlier study involving thousands of white women also linked diabetes to both soft drinks and sweetened juices, the report said.
Another study in the same journal found that eating fruits and vegetables seems to ward off type 2 diabetes, perhaps by preventing obesity or providing protective nutrients, including antioxidants.
A third study found that a low-fat diet does not seem to change the risk of diabetes.
"The common denominator that appears clear is that calories trump everything," Dr. Mark Feinglos of the Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina wrote in a commentary in the same issue. "And certain nutrients, like high fructose corn syrup, make it easier to overeat," he added.
"If you keep the calories low, you can probably eat almost anything, which is what the low-carb diets show us. Specific metabolic issues aside, an important reason that low carb works is because you don't eat a lot of calories."
(Reporting by Michael Conlon; Editing by Maggie Fox and Bill Trott)
Via Yahoo News from Reuters.