It’s official: sugar causes diabetes. While this may seem intuitive, it has been debated for decades. Now, a new study, using data from 175 countries over the last decade, shows that sugar is an independent risk factor for diabetes. Sugar consumption explains variations in diabetes that are not explained by physical activity, overweight or obesity. The sugar-diabetes link holds true even when considering total calories, food types (including fibers, meats, fruits, oils, cereals, alcohol), and several socioeconomic variables such as aging, urbanization and income.
The level of scientific confidence here is as strong as that which linked cigarettes and lung cancer in the 1960s. Of course, we know that it took decades for the tobacco industry to actually admit the connection. Hopefully, the sugar and food industries will not be so recalcitrant.
So, what’s the size of this effect? For the every equivalent of 12 ounces of sugar-sweetened beverage introduced per person per day into a country’s food system, the rate of diabetes goes up 1 percent.