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Sugar-Sweetened Fruit Drinks Linked to Increased Chance of Type 2 Diabetes in African American Women

African Americans are 1.8 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-Hispanic white counterparts. They are also more likely to suffer major complications due to the disease. Among African Americans, women are more likely to develop diabetes than men. A balanced diet with a focus on avoiding high-sugar foods is an important element in diabetes prevention and management. There are many new beverage products that claim to be healthy alternative drinks made with fruit. Unfortunately many of these juices may contain little or no fruit, and in fact have as much sugar as soft drinks.

The link between sugar-sweetened soft drinks and diabetes has been confirmed through several studies. Researchers from the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University sought to understand the link between the consumption of sugar-sweetened fruit juices to weight gain and the development of diabetes in African American women. The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine , found that regular consumption of sweetened fruit drinks was associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in African American women.

About the Study

The prospective cohort study followed 43,960 African American women for six years. At the start of the study none had diabetes. Their diets and weights were recorded at the beginning and end of the study. After accounting for other variables that affect diabetes development, the study found:

  • Higher consumption rates of sugar-sweetened fruit drinks were linked to higher rates of type 2 diabetes
  • Compared to women that did not drink sweetened fruit drinks, women that drank two or more sweetened fruit drinks per day were 1.3 times more likely to develop diabetes

This study found that the increase in diabetes in women that drank sugar-sweetened soft drinks was associated with an increase in body weight. The diabetes risk climbed in women that drank sugar-sweetened fruit juice even without weight gain.

How Does This Affect You?

Many people know that sugar-sweetened soft drinks should not be a regular part of a diet. However, fruit drinks are often promoted as healthy alternatives, since a well-balanced diet includes the consumption of fruit. Fruit drinks are often high in added sugars and may actually contain very little fruit. These types of fruit drinks can be just as dangerous in diabetes development as soft drinks.

Be aware that many health drinks are simply fruit flavored and may not contain any fruit. Look for 100% fruit juice on the label. Companies are required to post what percentage of their product is actual fruit juice as well as other vital nutritional information. Talk to a dietitian about developing a balanced diet plan to prevent or control diabetes.




  • Palmer JR, Boggs DA, Krishman S, Hu FB, Singer M, Rosenberg L. Sugar-sweetened beverages and incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus in African American women. Arch Intern Med . 2008 Jul 28;168(14):1487-92.

Last reviewed September 2008 by Larissa J. Lucas, MD

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