Those who want a cute treatment could best skip the soft drinks in favor of naturally occurring sugars to reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
After reviewing more than 150 studies, a Canadian research team concluded that sweetened beverages are at greater risk for type 2 diabetes than most other foods containing fructose.
The findings, published on Thursday, BMJFruits and other foods containing fructose do not have any harmful effects on blood sugar levels, while sweetened beverages and some other foods that add excess "low nutritional value" to diets can have a detrimental effect.
While senior investigator Dr. John Sievenpiper of Toronto's St. Michael's Hospital said further high-quality research is needed, he hopes the evidence will help with public health strategies to reduce the consumption of sweetened drink.
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"These findings can help make recommendations for important dietary sources of fructose in the prevention and treatment of diabetes," he said.
The role of sugars in the development of diabetes and cardiovascular disease often attracts a widespread debate with increasing data, indicating that fructose can be particularly harmful to health.
Fructose is naturally found in a range of foods including whole fruits and vegetables, natural fruit juices and honey. It is also added to foods such as soft drinks, cereals, baked goods, sweets and desserts as "free sugars".
The current diet guidelines recommend reducing free sugars, especially fructose from sweetened beverages, but it is not clear whether this applies to all food sources of these sugars.
This uncertainty forced Sievenpiper and his team to analyze the results of 155 studies that assess the effect of various food sources on fructose sugars on blood sugar levels in people with and without diabetes observed for up to 12 weeks.
The results are based on four projects: substitution (comparison of sugars with other carbohydrates), addition (energy from sugars added to the diet), subtraction (energy from sugars removed from the diet) or ad libitum.
The results show that most foods containing fructose sugars did not have a detrimental effect on blood glucose levels when food did not provide extra calories. However, some studies have seen a detrimental effect on fasting insulin.
In addition, their analysis of certain foods suggests that fruit and fruit juices can have a beneficial effect on blood sugar and insulin control, especially in people with diabetes.
The research team said that the low glycemic index (GI) of fructose compared to other carbohydrates and the higher fiber content of fruits can help explain the improvements in blood sugar levels by slowing down the production of sugars.