Drinking a can of cola a day increases the risk of developing diabetes by a fifth, according to research.
The largest study of the link between soft-drink consumption and Type 2 diabetes in Europe has found that the sweetened beverages not only cause weight gain, which is associated with a higher rate of diabetes, but also increase the risk of the condition independently.
Almost one in 20 adults in the UK has diabetes, of which 2.6 million are diagnosed and 500,000 are undiagnosed. But in the global context rates are rising due to multiple factors.
In the main they are driven by Western lifestyles, and the number of cases is expected to exceed four million in the UK alone by 2025.
Researchers from Imperial College, London, led the study of more than 12,000 people with Type 2 diabetes whose diets were compared with 16,000 controls in nine European countries.
The results showed that people who drank one can of sweetened soft drink a day had a 22pc increased risk of diabetes. However, the risk remained almost as high, at 18pc, even after account was taken of how overweight the individuals were and how much they ate.
Sweetened soft drinks contain a lot of calories which contribute to obesity, which in turn is a cause of diabetes.
But the drinks appeared to increase the risk separately from this effect, possibly by triggering insulin resistance, reducing the body's ability to use glucose.
Diet drinks, with artificial sweeteners, did not appear to increase the risk once account was taken of individuals' weight and calorie intake. (© Independent News Service)