The People's Perspective on Medicine

Does Fructose Raise Your Risk for Diabetes?

Fructose in fruit appears healthful, but sugary drinks and snacks can undermine blood sugar control and lead to trouble over time.

Do people who often indulge in sugary soft drinks sweetened with fructose have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes? Previous studies have suggested a link.

Processed Foods and Diabetes:

An analysis in the journal Global Public Health showed that rates of type 2 diabetes are higher in countries where processed foods containing high-fructose corn syrup are common (Global Public Health, Jan. 2013).

The scientists scrutinized data from 43 countries. In roughly half of them, people rarely eat foods containing high-fructose corn syrup. In the other countries, such as the US where usage averages 55 pounds per person per year, you can find the sweetener in soft drinks, fruit juice, ketchup, tomato sauce, breakfast cereals, fruit-flavored yogurt, salad dressing and even baked goods. Countries with lots of corn syrup in the food supply had approximately 20% more cases of diabetes than those that do not. There are other differences between the countries, of course, but these data do suggest that high-fructose corn syrup might deserve a closer look.

Looking at the Link Between Fructose and Diabetes:

Canadian scientists recently reviewed the evidence from 155 dietary studies that included more than 5,000 volunteers (The BMJ, online, Nov. 21, 2018). The total amount of fructose in study diets did not seem to make a difference. Fruit as part of a healthy diet providing an appropriate amount of energy actually seemed to be beneficial.

However, fructose from nutrient-poor sources such as soft drinks increased the chance that people would have high blood sugar, elevated HbA1c, and eventually proceed to type 2 diabetes. We have written previously about the hazards of diets full of highly-processed foods. Eating real food is one of the best protections against excessive sugar consumption.

The investigators point out that overall, the quality of the studies is low. They would like to see further research conducted as randomized controlled trials.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Now, a comprehensive review of existing research confirms that fructose-containing drinks can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes more than other foods that contain fructose.

Lawrence Baltimore

Is there any scientific evidence that stevia raises blood sugar?

The article discusses high fructose corn syrup but, what if a person will only eat food that contains cane sugar i.e. “real sugar”. There should be a study to test whether that would make a difference.

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