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Drinking a can of sugar-sweetened beverage a day increases your risk of developing pre-diabetes by 46 percent, according to a recent study.
The study by the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston said the daily dose of sugar “batters a person’s body on a cellular level,” reports HealthDay.
“This constant spike in blood glucose over time leads to the cells not becoming able to properly respond, and that’s the beginning of insulin resistance,” senior researcher Nicola McKeown told HealthDay. She added that once insulin resistance starts, blood sugar levels rise to levels that are damaging to every major system in the body.
“As many as one in three Kentucky adults, about 1.1 million people, are estimated to have pre-diabetes, but only 8.6 percent, more than 248,000 people, have reported being diagnosed, according to the Kentucky Department for Public Health and the CDC,” Darla Carter of The Courier-Journal reported in an in-depth look at diabetes in Kentucky.
This study found that a can of diet soda every day does not boost pre-diabetes risk, but notes that other studies have found otherwise.
McKeown told HealthDay that results from this study show that cutting back on sugary drinks is “a modifiable dietary factor that could have an impact on that progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes.”
The American Beverage Association, a lobby for soft-drink manufacturers, countered that sugar-sweetened beverages aren’t the only risk factor for pre-diabetes.
“Credible health organizations such as the Mayo Clinic note that the risk factors for pre-diabetes include factors such as weight, inactivity, race and family history,” the industry group said in a statement to HealthDay.
The study said that pre-diabetes risk did decline when other factors such as other dietary sources of sugar and weight were considered, but not by much — with the increased risk associated with sugary drinks still amounting to about 27 percent.
Best way to diagnose pre-diabetes: A1c hemoglobin
Another study found that the common blood test called hemoglobin A1C is the “most accurate predictor” of who will go on to develop diabetes and to develop long-term complications from it, and says it’s time for everyone to agree on the best way to diagnose pre-diabetes.
“The goal is to figure out who is at the highest risk of not only developing diabetes but of developing its serious complications including kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and even death,” lead author Bethany Warren said in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health news release. “Hemoglobin A1C appears to be the tool that is best able to do that.”
Professional organizations differ on how they define pre-diabetes, a condition that indicates whether a patient is likely to develop type 2 diabetes, says the release. For example, the American Diabetes Association recommends either the A1c hemoglobin test or glucose levels, while the World Health Organization recommends the glucose test only.
Glucose measures look at current levels in the blood as opposed to A1c hemoglobin, which looks at glucose exposure over two to three months.
The one thing health-care providers agree on is that people who are at high risk of developing diabetes can reduce their risk through weight loss, changes in their diet and increased activity. Some even recommend the use of a medication called metformin to reduce the risk.
“When someone is told they have pre-diabetes, we hope it will cause them to make changes to their habits in order to prevent the development of diabetes and its complications,” senior author Elizabeth Selvin, a professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins said in the release. “Being identified as having pre-diabetes can also make it easier to receive weight loss and nutritional counseling as well as reimbursement for these services.
The study, published in Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, found no difference between the two glucose tests used to diagnose diabetes and pre-diabetes, but found that the tests diagnosed pre-diabetes at a higher rate.
“We also don’t want to over-diagnose people,” Slevin said. “Using the hemoglobin A1C test allows us to more accurately identify those persons at highest risk.”