The research, which appears in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, suggests that African American women within the US, who consume at least two soft drinks a day, were 24 per cent more likely of developing the disease compared to those who drank one product a month.
The same daily consumption of fruit drinks led to a 33 per cent hike in incidence. However, juice products derived from oranges and grapefruit, as well as diet soft drinks, were not linked in the study to diabetes, said lead researcher Julie Palmer of Boston University.
In a number of markets, consumer demand for health and wellness products has led manufacturers to develop a growing number of fruit drinks for their portfolios, due to their association with the health benefits of their flavours.
Fruit drink consumption
Despite the research's conclusion, the study pointed to some differences in the consumption patterns of regular sugar-sweetened soft drinks compared to sugar-sweetened fruit drinks.
The researchers said that consumption patterns between the two beverage types were not linked to respondents Body Mass Index (BMI) or education background, but to some dietary and activity trends.
"[Fruit drinks] were positively correlated with physical activity, cereal fibre intake, and eating a low-glycemic index diet," the researchers stated. "To some extent, then, soft drink consumption was correlated with unhealthy behaviours and fruit drink consumption with healthy behaviours."
In identifying contributing factors for the study's findings, weight gain from beverage consumption was identified by the researchers as a key element in the onset of diabetes.
"A systematic review of the literature indicates a positive association between greater intakes of sugar sweetened beverages and weight gain and obesity in both children and adults," the researchers said. "These beverages are dense in calories and are typically consumed as an addition to usual food intake."
The researchers claimed that the use of sweeteners such as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) were likely to have a particularly strong impact on weight gain, due in part to the possible affects it has on insulin secretion and leptin release.
By comparison, the naturally occurring sugars in orange and grapefruit juice, identified in the research as glucose and fructose, were linked to different metabolic effects than those associated with HFCS.
The findings were derived from an ongoing health study of 59,000 African American women aged between 21 and 69 years of age across the US.
The research began with a baseline survey back in 1995, which called for various medical and lifestyle information such as weight, height, reproductive history and everyday questions on diet, cigarettes and alcohol use, according to the study.
Updates of these surveys were then issued every two years to respondents detailing current lifestyle practices, with an average return rate of 80 per cent, over the ten-year period that the beverage study was based on.
Researchers added that subjects that had reported already having diabetes, gestational diabetes, cancer, heart conditions like strokes or being pregnant at baseline were not included in the testing.
A total of 43,960 respondents' information was used in the final study.
The researchers said that the findings reflected similar follow on studies conducted on US nurses, which was a predominantly white respondent group by contrast.
"Positive associations, somewhat stronger than in the present study, were found for both soft drinks and fruit drinks," said the researchers. "The weaker associations observed in our study may be due to the higher baseline risk of diabetes experienced by African American women."
Source: Archives of Internal Medicine
Vol 168, Issue 14, July 2008
"Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Incidence of Type 2
Diabetes Mellitus in African American Women"
Authors: Julie Palmer, Deborah Boggs, Supriya Krishnan, Frank B. Hu et al.