NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 31, 2004

A major Harvard School of Public Health study of 52,000 nurses concludes that some sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to weight gain and type 2, or adult onset, diabetes.

Researchers compared nurses who drank less than one sugar-sweetened beverage a month to those who consumed as many as one or more a day and tracked their health records and dietary habits for eight years. They found:

  • The risk for diabetes was heightened in both nonobese and obese women, in those with both low and high rates of physical activity, and in those consuming small and large amounts of trans-fats.
  • Many of the diabetes-rate increases were considered statistically significant, though in some categories the results stopped just short of being statistically significant.
  • Overall, however, the researchers concluded that, after adjusting for certain factors, women drinking the most sugar-sweetened soft drinks daily had an 83 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes compared with those consuming the least.
  • The link between sugary drinks persisted even after "adjusting for intake of caffeine, red meat, French fries, processed meat, sweets, snacks, vegetables and fruit," say Harvard doctors.

The study's targeted beverages, says the American Beverage Association, are not listed as risk factors for type 2 diabetes by the American Diabetes Association or the majority of published medical literature.

Source: Thomas M. Burton and Betsy McKay, "Study Links Sugar-Sweetened Soft Drinks and Diabetes," Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2004; based upon Matthias B. Schulze et al., "Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, Weight Gain, and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in Young and Middle-Aged Women," Vol. 292, No. 8, Journal of the American Medical Association, August 25, 2004.

For WSJ text (subscription required),,SB109337658494999892-search,00.html

For study text


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