We’ve known for a long time that moderating sugar consumption plays a big role in managing diabetes. Now, new research is showing a direct link between the availability of sugar and the incidence of type-2 diabetes. The findings go against the commonplace assumption that this form of diabetes is primarily caused by overeating and could change how we understand, prevent and treat the disease.
The decade-long study conducted by the Stanford Prevention Research Centre took into account 175 countries around the globe, and found that for every additional 150 calories of sugar available per person per day, the percentage of the population with diabetes increased by 1.1%.
The study also found that any country exposed to what they called an “excess of sugar” had increased rates of diabetes, whereas countries with less sugar had lower rates of diabetes.
Interestingly, the same was not true if those calories from sugar were replaced by other calories. In other words, this would suggest it is NOT consumption of too many calories that causes type-2 diabetes, but consumption of too much sugar.
The study provides the first large-scale, population-based evidence for the idea that not all calories are equal from a diabetes risk standpoint. Nevertheless, previous findings that connect food intake to type-2 diabetes should still be taken into account.
Lead researcher Sanjay Basu explains, “We’re not diminishing the importance of obesity at all, but these data suggest that at a population level there are additional factors that contribute to diabetes risk besides obesity and total calorie intake, and that sugar appears to play a prominent role.”
Future studies are planned to examine the findings in more detail and will likely prove a more definite link between sugar intake and diabetes risk.