The research was conducted by Dr Dora Romaguera, Dr Petra Wark and Dr Teresa Norat, Imperial College London, UK, and colleagues and comes from data in the InterAct consortium.
The researchers used data on consumption of juices and nectars, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and artificially sweetened soft drinks collected across eight European cohorts participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC study; UK, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Sweden, France, Italy, Netherlands), covering some 350,000 participants.
As part of the InterAct project, the researchers did a study which included 12,403 type 2 diabetes cases and a random sub-cohort of 16,154 identified within EPIC. The researchers found that, after adjusting for confounding factors, consumption of one 12oz (336ml) serving size of sugar-sweetened soft drink per day increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 22 percent.
This increased risk fell slightly to 18 percent when total energy intake and body-mass index (BMI) were accounted for (both factors that are thought to mediate the association between sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption and diabetes incidence). This could indicate that the effect of sugar-sweetened soft drink on diabetes goes beyond its effect on body weight.
The authors also observed a statistically significant increase in type 2 diabetes incidence related to artificially sweetened soft drink consumption, however this significant association disappeared after taking into account the BMI of participants; this probably indicates that the association was not causal but driven by the weight of participants.
Pure fruit juice and nectar consumption was not significantly associated with diabetes incidence, however it was not possible using the data available to study separately the effect of 100 percent pure juices from those with added sugars.
The researchers said the increased risk of diabetes among sugar-sweetened soft drink consumers in Europe is similar to that found in a meta-analysis of previous studies conducted mostly in North America (that found a 25 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes associated with one 12 oz daily increment of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption).
The research is published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes).