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10 Myths About Sugar

Sugar Causes Diabetes
High sugar intake doesn't directly cause diabetes. Wavebreakmedia/Thinkstock
High sugar intake doesn't directly cause diabetes. Wavebreakmedia/Thinkstock

One of the more prevalent sugar myths is that it causes diabetes. This misconception likely occurs because diabetics' blood sugar levels are often out of whack, so they have to watch their sugar intake. But in general, there is no direct cause and effect between sugar consumption and the development of diabetes with one exception, which we'll discuss in a minute.

There are three main types of diabetes [sources: Kids Health, Trant, WebMD]:

  1. Type 1 diabetes develops if your body's pancreas can't make insulin. Insulin is a hormonethat takes the sugar from the foods we eat and allows it to enter our tissues, where our body can use it as fuel, or energy.
  2. If your pancreas is making insulin, but it's not enough or the insulin doesn't work properly, you'll have Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes typically occurs in people who are overweight, inactive and eat a diet high in calories from any source, not just sweets.
  3. Some pregnant women develop gestational diabetes when the hormonal changes from pregnancy affect the way their insulin works.

So what's the exception to the sugar-diabetes linkage? People who regularly down lots of sugary drinks (sugar-sweetened soda, fruit drinks) are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. Of course, many people who guzzle sugary drinks are overweight and eat poorly, two factors that can cause Type 2, but studies show even those who are trim and eat healthily are more likely to develop diabetes if they're also drinking lots of sugary drinks [source: Harvard School of Public Health].