fizzyChildren drinking one or more cans of sugary soft drinks a day will have an increased risk of diabetes in later life, European scientists have suggested.

Research was carried out on 350,000 people across six EU countries including the UK has shown that children drinking a can a day have five times the risk of diabetes compared to those that consume one can a month or under.

Every can increases risk 
"The consumption of sugar sweetened soft drinks increases your risk of diabetes - so for every can of soft drinks that you drink per day, the risk is higher," lead researcher Dora Romaguera from Imperial College London said.

She called for clearer public health information on the effects of sugary soft drinks. "Given the increase in sweet beverage consumption in Europe, clear messages on its deleterious effect on health should be given to the population," Dr Romaguera added.

'Not definitive evidence'
Commenting on the results, Dr Matthew Hobbs, head of research at Diabetes UK, said the link between sugar-sweetened soft drinks and Type-2 diabetes persisted even when body mass index was taken into account meaning the risk is not solely due to increased calories.

"Even so, it is not definitive evidence that sugar-sweetened soft drinks increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes, other than through their effect on body weight," he added.

"We do, though, already recommend limiting consumption of sugary foods and drinks as these are usually high in calories and so can lead to weight gain if you have too many of them."

Soft drink tax
An increased risk of diabetes was also linked to drinking artificially sweetened soft drinks, but this disappeared when body mass index was taken into account. Fruit juice consumption was not associated with diabetes incidence, however.

Estimates from food and farming charity Sustain suggest that UK children consumed more than 1,500 million litres of sugary soft drinks in the past year.

Earlier this year, more than 60 organisations, including the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, backed Sustain's recommendation for a 20p-per-litre levy on soft drinks.

Posted 25/04/2013 by richard.hook@pavpub.com