Research finding shows that excessive sugar consumption may be the main driver of a global rise in diabetes, independent of obesity.
It observed that because diabetes levels were high in several countries with low obesity rates and vice versa, some scientists had theorized that rising consumption of processed sugar-laden foods, was a key driver of the diabetes epidemic.
The study titled: “The Relationship of Sugar to Population-level Diabetes Prevalence: An Econometric Analysis of Repeated Cross-sectional Data,” was published in the journal PloS One, an international peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication.
In a nutritional analysis of 175 countries, researchers found that every 150 calorie increase in sugar was tied to a 1.1 per cent boost in diabetes, after controlling for other foods, total calories, weight gain and sedentary lifestyles.
It noted that while experimental and observational studies suggested that sugar intake was associated with the development of Type 2 diabetes; independent of its role in obesity, it was unclear whether alterations in sugar intake could account for differences in diabetes prevalence among overall populations.
It said no other food types yielded significant individual associations with diabetes prevalence after controlling for obesity and other con-founders.
The research said the impact of sugar on diabetes was independent of sedentary behavior and alcohol use and the effect was modified but not confounded by obesity or overweight.
It said the duration and degree of sugar exposure correlated significantly with diabetes prevalence in a dose-dependent manner, while declines in sugar exposure correlated with significant subsequent declines in diabetes rates independent of other socioeconomic, dietary and obesity prevalence changes.
It said differences in sugar availability statistically explained variations in diabetes prevalence rates at a population level that was not explained by physical activity, overweight or obesity.
The research said global diabetes prevalence had more than doubled over the last three decades, with prevalence rates far exceeding modeled projections, even after allowing for improved surveillance.
It said nearly 1 in 10 adults worldwide were now affected by diabetes, adding that this striking statistic had led to investigations into the population drivers of diabetes prevalence.
It said most of the worldwide rise was thought to be Type 2 diabetes linked to the “metabolic syndrome” – the cluster of metabolic perturbations that include dyslipidemia, hypertension and insulin resistance.
The researchers said obesity associated with economic development — particularly from lack of exercise and increased consumption of calories — was thought to be the strongest risk factor for metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is caused by high levels of blood sugar. Symptoms include blurry vision, excess thirst and fatigue. Over time, diabetes can lead to difficulty in seeing, painful sores, amputation and nerve damage.