Sunday 22 September 2019

Sweetened drinks 'more harmful' than natural sugar


Sweet tooth: “Nutrient poor energy” appears to be a threat. Stock picture
Sweet tooth: “Nutrient poor energy” appears to be a threat. Stock picture
Claire Murphy

Claire Murphy

Sweetened drinks pose a greater risk of type 2 diabetes than most other foods containing fructose, a naturally occurring sugar, according to findings published yesterday.

An evidence review suggests fruit and other foods containing fructose seem to have no harmful effect on blood glucose levels, while sweetened drinks and some other foods that add excess "nutrient poor" energy to diets may have harmful effects.

"These findings might help guide recommendations on important food sources of fructose in the prevention and management of diabetes," said Dr John Sievenpiper, the lead author and a researcher in the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre of St Michael's Hospital in Toronto, Canada.

Fructose occurs naturally 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, breakfast cereals, baked goods, sweets, and desserts as "free sugars".

Current dietary guidelines recommend reducing free sugars, especially fructose from sweetened beverages, but it is unclear whether this holds for all food sources of these sugars.

Researchers analysed the results of 155 studies which suggested fruit and fruit juice - when these foods do not provide excess calories - may have beneficial effects on blood glucose and insulin control, especially in people with diabetes.

However, several foods that add excess "nutrient poor" energy to the diet, especially sweetened drinks and fruit juice, seem to have harmful effects.

Irish Independent

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