Recommendation: Leave Out the Sugar

High sugar intake, especially in the form of beverages, increases your risk of diabetes. Many highly processed foods found in supermarkets and convenience stores are high in sugar and low in nutritional value.1 Sugary beverages are a common culprit when it comes to consuming too much sugar, and they are especially harmful because drinking them does not make you feel full, meaning that you may still eat the same amount of food later.1 Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, such as sodas, fruit drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened coffee or tea adds extra sugar and calories to your diet and increases your risk of gaining weight and developing type 2 diabetes. A recent report associates high sugar-sweetened drink intake with increased genetic risk for obesity.2 This means that people already genetically at risk for obesity exacerbate their risk when drinking sweet drinks. Studies have shown that drinking plain water, low-sugar coffee, or unsweetened tea instead of sugary drinks lowers your risk of type 2 diabetes.3-4 And drinking coffee, even decaffeinated coffee, at 3-4 cups or more a day was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes compared with drinking no coffee at all.5 However, adding sugar and cream makes coffee a high-calorie drink, so drinking it black or with a modest amount of milk confers the greatest benefits.
Take a look at the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate for more information on choosing healthy drinks.
1 Malik V, Willett WC, Hu FB. Global obesity: trends, risk factors and policy implications. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2013;9(1):13-27.
2 Qi Q, Chu AY, Kang JH, et al. Sugar-sweetened beverages and genetic risk of obesity. N Engl J Med. 2012;367:1387-1396.
3 Pan A, Malik VS, Schulze MB, Manson JE, Willett WC, Hu FB. Plain-water intake and risk of type 2 diabetes in young and middle-aged women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;95:1454-1460.
4 de Ruyter JC, Olthof MR, Seidell JC, Katan MB. A trial of sugar-free or sugar-sweetened beverages and body weight in children. N Engl J Med. 2012;367(15):1397-1406.