New research released today has found that increased sugary drink consumption can increase risk of type 2 diabetes independent of weight gain or obesity.
Most previous research suggests that increased sugary drink consumption led to weight gain that then led to type 2 diabetes. But an Australian National University led study of 40,000 adults showed the more sugary drinks consumed, the higher the risk of type 2 diabetes independent of weight gain and obesity.
Lead author Keren Papier from ANU said type 2 diabetes killed millions of people globally every year and evidence from around the world showed that a reduction in sugary drink consumption would reduce rates of type 2 diabetes.
“A reduction in sugary drink consumption is likely reduce rates of diabetes in Australia,” said Ms Papier, a PhD candidate from the ANU Research School of Population Health.
“Several countries including Mexico, the United States, France and Chile have already started acting on sugary drinks by imposing or committing to a sugar tax.
“Findings from the United States and Mexico show that applying the tax has led to a 17 and 21 per cent decrease respectively in the purchase of taxed beverages among low-income households.”
The tax has raised over $US2.6 billion in Mexico.
“Sugary drinks are an ideal target for public health interventions to help control the type 2 diabetes epidemic since they have no nutritional value and do not protect against disease,” Ms Papier said.
Diabetes Australia calls for a health levy on sugary drinks
Diabetes Australia CEO Professor Greg Johnson said a health levy on sugary drinks was an important part of a comprehensive approach to responding to the type 2 diabetes epidemic.
“Diabetes Australia recommends the Australian Government introduce a health levy on sugary drinks as part of a comprehensive approach to decreasing rates of overweight and obesity and reducing the impact of type 2 diabetes,” A/Professor Johnson said.
“A levy would reduce consumption and the revenue generated could support public education campaigns and initiatives to prevent type 2 diabetes and address childhood obesity.”
Professor Johnson said reducing consumption of sugary drinks would have a real impact on the health of Australian children and young people where there is very high consumption of sugary drinks with no nutritional benefit.
“Research has found that a sugary drinks levy could help reduce consumption by more than 10 per cent,” he said.
“Over 25 years a tax on sugary drinks could mean 16,000 fewer cases of type 2 diabetes, 4,400 fewer cases of heart disease and 1,100 fewer cases of stroke.
“Anything that makes sugary drinks a less appealing product and encourages Australians to consume less of them, and more of healthy alternatives like water, is a step in the right direction.”