Fruit juices don’t increase type 2 diabetes risk

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Fruit juices don’t increase type 2 diabetes risk

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Four recent studies have examined the impact of drinking 100% fruit juices on risk of developing type 2 diabetes – a condition that affects around one in ten European adults.

Scientists from Western Australia tracked a group of 7675 adults for five years after measuring their intake of fruit and 100% fruit juice (1). People who ate a moderate amount of fruit had a 36% lower risk of type 2 diabetes, but this advantage wasn’t seen at higher intakes of fruit.

Fruit juice, on the other hand, did not influence risk of type 2 diabetes at either lower or higher intakes. Nor did it appear to affect markers of diabetes risk, such as blood glucose or insulin levels. 

A similar result was seen in an American study of 9965 adults (2), half of whom had ‘prediabetes’ (where blood markers suggest a higher diabetes risk). Drinking 100% fruit juice was not linked to prediabetes or blood glucose levels. However, adults who drank two daily servings of sugar-sweetened beverages increased their risk of prediabetes by a third.

Turning to adolescents, a study of more than 125,000 American schoolchildren found that drinking 100% fruit juice had no significant impact on the risk of prediabetes (3). The picture was different for sugar-sweetened fruit drinks which increased the risk of prediabetes. This highlights the importance of studies being clear whether they are measuring consumption of 100% juice or sugar-containing juice drinks.

Finally, an animal model of type 2 diabetes (4) found that providing unrestricted fruit juice for 4 weeks to rats at risk of diabetes did not change body weight, blood glucose control and markers of oxidative stress and long-term diabetes risk. In contrast, giving the same amount of added sugars had a detrimental effect on these markers. This suggests that natural fruit juice sugars behave differently in the body, although this now needs to be tested in humans.

These studies show that including a moderate amount of 100% fruit juice in the diet doesn’t affect risk of type 2 diabetes, nor have a negative effect on normal blood sugar control.

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