Harvard Women's Health Watch

Swap out a sweet drink to reduce your diabetes risk

Research we’re watching

Replacing just one sugary drink each day with water may reduce your risk of developing diabetes, according to a study published online Oct. 3, 2019, by Diabetes Care. Researchers from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health looked at more than two decades’ worth of data collected in three long-term studies, involving more than 192,000 adults. By tracking beverage intake over time, they found that people who increased their consumption of sugary drinks (including 100% fruit juice) by more than 4 ounces a day over four years had a 16% increase in diabetes risk over the next four years. Turning to “diet” versions might not help, either: an 18% jump in diabetes risk occurred in people who increased their intake of artificially sweetened drinks by more than 4 ounces a day over the same period, although some of that risk could have reflected other factors, said researchers.

The bottom line: If you want to reduce diabetes risk, it’s better to skip sweet drinks and stick to unsweetened tea, coffee, or water. When people drank one of those beverages once a day instead of a sweetened drink, diabetes risk dropped by 2% to 10%.

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