The News Story: Fizzy drinks and fruit juice cause Type 2 diabetes, opting for plain water might prevent diabetes

'Opting for plain water might prevent diabetes'

'Drinking plain water instead of fizzy drinks and fruit juice lowers the risk of women developing diabetes'.

This is the take home message from the Chicago Tribune May 31st 2012 and the Daily Mail article June 1st 2012.

These newspapers highlighted the publication by a Harvard research group which considered whether it was the water that was good or the sugar sweetened drinks that were bad. The study concluded that if people just replaced fizz drinks with water their diabetes risk would be dramatically reduced.

The papers highlighted the concern from the medical profession on the increasing consumption of sugar and its repercussions. The Mail article also makes the point that you should not think of replacing fizzy drink with fruit juice because fruit juice has similar calories and sugar content.

Both newspaper articles raised some interesting clinical questions. The main point of contention focused on the physical harm that soft drinks could be doing to us. This could either be in a general way by contributing to obesity in our communities or in specific ways by directly causing diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

While the Harvard study suggested that there might be a link between fizzy drinks and diabetes the Newspapers implied that there was a link.

Whilst newspapers have an important role in bringing important medical research to the public there is often a sensational interpretation to the research. In real terms it is rare that things are black and white.

Another story in the Daily Mail 31 July 2012 claimed it is the sugar binge or sugar hit that follows the drinking a soft drink which represents the main culprit in this whole story. The huge amount of sugar in one easily consumed drink is equivalent to physiological terror suggests one research article.

This idea was suggested and expanded from the study by Dr Hans-Peter Kubis a biologist from Bangor University. He conducted a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition suggesting that fizzy drinks dramatically alter our metabolism. He concluded his article by suggesting fizzy drinks are frankly evil. This is clearly a bold statement and he is not alone in these thoughts. There are several articles suggesting adverse effects on the heart and also on the liver from regular consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks. This is in addition to the enlarging body of evidence linking these beverages to the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

In the interests of a balancing the argument it should be noted that the study in question only lasted 4 weeks with a sample size of only 11 people. The jury is therefore still out whilst further evidence is gathered. These research studies continue the focus on a wide range of drinks where liquid sugar is the main fuel. Therefore we will need not only to consider the health effects of the usual commonly known brands of fizzy suspects but also on the cleverly disguised 'healthy' alternatives. These marketing triumphs have just as much sugar, sometimes they have even more.

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