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Global Spike in Diabetes Fueled By Excess Sugar, According to New Study

Ava Lawson | March 8th, 2013

female doctor smiling with male patientAccording to a new study, excessive sugar consumption over a long period of time may be a contributing factor in the global rise of type 2 diabetes. The condition affects an estimated 350 million people worldwide, and is widely considered an epidemic of serious concern. The research, which was led by Dr. Robert Lustig of the San Francisco’s Benioff Children’s Hospital, was based on a nutritional investigation of 175 different countries. Dr. Lustig published his findings in the PLos One medical journal, which details the results. Researchers discovered that each 150 calorie increase in sugar intake was linked to a 1.1 percent rise in diabetes, with controls factored in for total calories, weight, and inactive lifestyles.

While the research fails to establish a direct tie between sugar intake and the development of diabetes, it does reveal that societies which consumed high levels of sugar over an extended period of time had a higher rate of diabetes.

Scientists analyze the impact of sugar in a diabetes diet

Lustig, who is a pediatric endocrinologist, gathered data from the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization on the typical diets common in 175 countries. The research team then evaluated those estimates with the prevalence of diabetes among individuals who were aged 20 to 79. Even factoring in things like obesity, alcohol consumption, and age, the scientists found a strong connection between a diet high in sugar and diabetes. Foods made with excess refined sugars can increase the incidence of diabetes by creating inflammation and liver fat, according to the Lustig’s report. This, in turn, may contribute to insulin-resistance. While the association between sugar and diabetes has been known since the 1970s, this new study examined the food supplies to nations around the globe, to see what had changed and how that may have impacted the climbing rate of diabetes. The only difference the scientists noted was a huge increase in sugar intake.

Lustig commented that his study was criticized by medical professionals from nearly every journal before it was made public. And many in the healthcare community contend that excess calories – rather than sugar – is the major cause of diabetes.  Additional research may be necessary to help illuminate the study’s findings. While Lustig’s research has its share of critics, there is no doubt that a healthy diabetes diet – one that is low in refined sugars and processed foods – can help patients control their blood glucose levels. The National Institute of Health recently found that individuals with elevated blood sugar levels reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes by 58 percent through diet and exercise alone.

Reversing diabetes through diet is possible

Operating in more than 450 locations throughout the country, the physicians at The Center for Medical Weight Loss are experts in reversing diabetes through diet and weight loss. Dr. Michael Kaplan, founder and Chief Medical Officer, confirms that many of his diabetic clients who achieved their ideal weight have been able to go off their medications or insulin completely. Dr. Kaplan also explains that diet plans for diabetics are customized for each client, taking into account their personal preferences, lifestyles, medical history, and weight loss goals.


  1. Bloomberg News, (February 27, 2013) Sugar Seen as Driver in Rise of Diabetes, Study Suggestshttp://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-27/sugar-seen-as-driver-in-rise-of-diabetes-study-suggests.html