The results of a large epidemiological study conducted at UC San Francisco suggest that sugar mayhave a direct, independent link to diabetes. The study provides the first large-scale, population-based evidence for the idea that not all calories are equal from a diabetes-risk standpoint.
For the study, researchers examined data on global sugar availability and diabetes rates from 175 countries over the past decade. After accounting for obesity and a large array of other factors, the researchers found that increased sugar in a population’s food supply was linked to higher Type 2 diabetes rates, independent of obesity rates. Their study is published in PLOS ONE.
“It was quite a surprise,” said Sanjay Basu, MD, PhD, the study’s lead author.
“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,” the researchers said.
Not only was sugar availability correlated to diabetes risk, but the longer a population was exposed to excess sugar, the higher its diabetes rate after controlling for obesity and other factors. In addition, diabetes rates dropped over time when sugar availability dropped, independent of changes to consumption of other calories and physical activity or obesity rates