Sugar-sweetened drinks tied to a higher risk of premature death for people with type 2 diabetes: Harvard researchers

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.

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