Researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that sugar-sweetened beverages were tied to an increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease among people with type 2 diabetes. (Nancy Lane/Boston Herald)
Those with type 2 diabetes who regularly drank sugar-sweetened beverages like soda or lemonade had a higher risk of dying prematurely than those who routinely consumed drinks like coffee, tea, low-fat milk and water, according to Harvard researchers.
The sugar-sweetened beverages were also tied to an increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease among people with type 2 diabetes, the scientists at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found in the new study.
Each additional daily serving of a sugar-sweetened beverage was linked to an 8% higher all-cause mortality among those with type 2 diabetes. Replacing one daily serving of a sugar-sweetened beverage with a healthier beverage was associated with up to an 18% lower risk of all-cause death.
“Beverages are an important component of our diet, and the quality can vary hugely,” said lead author Qi Sun, associate professor in the Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology.
“People living with diabetes may especially benefit from drinking healthy beverages — but data has been sparse,” Sun added. “These findings help fill in that knowledge gap and may inform patients and their caregivers on diet and diabetes management.”
The researchers looked specifically at beverage consumption among patients with type 2 diabetes. While previous studies tied beverage consumption and health outcomes such as cardiometabolic health, weight change and mortality, those studies were primarily done among the general population.
The scientists for this study analyzed an average of 18.5 years of health data from 9,252 women participating in the Nurse’s Health Study and 3,519 men participating in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study — all of whom had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at some point.
Every two to four years, the participants reported how often they drank sugar-sweetened beverages (including soda, fruit punch, and lemonade), artificially sweetened beverages, fruit juice, coffee, tea, low-fat cow’s milk, full-fat cow’s milk, and plain water.
The findings showed higher all-cause mortality — and higher incidence of and mortality from cardiovascular disease — among those who regularly consumed sugar-sweetened drinks. On the other hand, all-cause mortality and incidence of and mortality from cardiovascular disease dropped among those who regularly drank healthier beverages such as coffee, tea, low-fat cow’s milk, and plain water.
“People living with diabetes should be picky about how they keep themselves hydrated,” Sun said. “Switching from sugar-sweetened beverages to healthier beverages will bring health benefits.”
Rick Sobey is a multimedia, general assignment reporter — covering breaking news, politics and more across the region. He was most recently a reporter at The Lowell Sun. Rick is a Massachusetts native and graduated from Boston University. While not reporting, he enjoys long-distance running.