Mexican Americans drink the most soda
In the United States, almost 17% of Hispanic/Latino adults have diabetes; this is mostly type 2 diabetes (T2D). Among adults of Hispanic/Latino origin, people of Mexican heritage have the highest rate of T2D. One important lifestyle risk factor for T2D is drinking sugar-sweetened beverages. These include soda, sweetened tea/coffee/water, and fruit drinks with added sweeteners. In the U.S., Hispanics/Latinos consume more sugar-sweetened beverages than non-Hispanic Whites or Asians. Compared to Mexicans in their country of origin, Mexican Americans drink more sugar-sweetened beverages and artificially sweetened beverages. Additionally, research shows that Mexican Americans tend to eat more unhealthy foods such as desserts, salty snacks, pizzas and french fries.
We are what we eat and drink
As an alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages, artificially sweetened beverages are healthier choices to reduce sugar intake. Another choice is 100% fruit juice because of the healthy components like vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. However, it is important to note that these drinks also contain similar amounts of sugar as sugar-sweetened beverages. We know that there is a clear link between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and diabetes or prediabetes risk. However, the connection between artificially sweetened beverage/ fruit juice consumption and prediabetes risk is unclear.
Artificial sweeteners – good or bad?
Recently, researchers calculated sugar sweetened beverage consumption by asking people what they drank in the previous 24 hours and having them complete questionnaires to see if this was associated with prediabetes. They measured the link between what people (aged 18-74 years) without diabetes drink and their prediabetes risk. Compared to people who drank less than one serving/day of sugar sweetened beverages, individuals who drank more than two servings/day had 1.3 times greater risk of prediabetes and/or abnormal glucose metabolism. This included insulin resistance. Artificially sweetened beverage intake was not associated with prediabetes in this study. However, there was a suggestion that this might affect cells that release insulin. Similarly, 100% fruit juice intake was not significantly associated with prediabetes.
In conclusion, programs that aim to decrease the amount of sugar-sweetened beverage we drink could reduce the burden of diabetes among Hispanics/Latinos in the U.S.