Diets

Soft drinks in Australia have more sugar which could be contributing to type 2 diabetes

by Barbara Hewitt on June 6, 2017

Popular Australian soft drinks have higher levels of glucose than those in other countries and scientists believe it could be linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The analysis by researchers at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute found that in four popular soft drinks, total glucose concentration, predominantly from sucrose, was 22% higher in Australia compared to drinks in the United States.

(Nabrus/Bigstock.com)

The concentrations of sugars in five samples each of soft drinks marketed under the trade names Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola and Pepsi in Australia, Europe and the US were analysed by the National Measurement Institute in Australia, an independent, certified laboratory, with high performance liquid chromatography.

The author of the research report and head of Metabolic and Vascular Physiology at the Baker Institute, Professor Bronwyn Kingwell, explained that Australian soft drinks are chiefly sweetened through sugar cane derived sucrose.

In contrast, formulations marketed under the same trade name in other regions predominantly use high fructose corn syrup such as in the United States and sugar beet in European countries.

She said given that glucose, but not fructose rapidly elevates plasma glucose and insulin, regular consumption of Australian soft drinks has potential health implications regarding type 2 diabetes and its complications.

Kingwell pointed out that the study findings are particularly relevant for Australians who are high consumers of sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs). A recent Australian Health Survey estimated that 39% of all men and 29% of women are regular consumers of SSBs, which represent the largest source of sugars in the Australian diet.

Professor Kingwell also explained that while the potential adverse effects of fructose overconsumption are well known, particularly with regards to potential build-up of fat in the liver and links with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, little is known about the health effects of Australian soft drink consumption containing high glucose concentrations.

She said the findings from the research are of significant concern to warrant further investigation as soon as possible and her report also calls for further examination of the health effects of Australian soft drink formulations.

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