Does Sugar Cause Diabetes? Fact vs Fiction

Medically Reviewed on 9/14/2022
Does Sugar Cause Diabetes?
Consuming more than the recommended amount of sugar can cause diabetes.

Diabetes is a multifactorial disorder. Excess sugar can directly damage the beta cells of the pancreas in the long run (glucotoxicity). It causes frequent insulin spikes in the blood, causing hyperinsulinemia and obesity. Both these factors are responsible for insulin resistance in the body cells.

Thus, frequently eating sugar causes diabetes. Studies have reported that individuals who consume one to two can of sugary soda every day are 26 percent more at risk of type II diabetes mellitus than those who never had such drinks.

Strong evidence states that people who frequently consume sugary beverages are at the highest risk of diabetes due to sudden insulin spikes.

Some ways by which sugar may directly or indirectly increase the risk of diabetes include:

  • Fructose from fructose-containing sugars, sucrose, and high fructose corn syrup in sugar-sweetened beverages and foods can affect the liver, leading to fatty liver, inflammation, and localized insulin resistance.
  • High fructose levels may trigger abnormal insulin production in the pancreas, thereby increasing the risk of diabetes mellitus.
  • High sugar consumption is associated with obesity, which can lead to an increased risk of diabetes mellitus.

How is sugar metabolized?

Sugar or sucrose is broken down into glucose and fructose by the enzymes of the small intestine before getting absorbed into the bloodstream.

Due to the breakdown of sucrose into glucose and fructose, the blood sugar level increases, signaling the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin transports glucose from the bloodstream toward the cells, where it gets converted for energy.

A small amount of fructose is taken up by the cell for energy, whereas most of them are carried to the liver to convert to glucose or fat for storage.

Consuming more than the recommended amount of sugar can lead to excess fat deposition in the body. Fructose converts to fats; a high intake can lead to high cholesterol levels.

What are other myths associated with diabetes?

Some of the common myths associated with diabetes include:

People with diabetes can eat more fruits

  • Fact: Fruits have sugar. When eaten in excess, they can increase the glycemic index. Hence, moderation is the key. Additionally, some foods such as pears, apples, and oranges are better choices than papayas, bananas, and custard apples.

Diabetes is caused by overeating

  • Fact: This is partially true. Diabetes is a combination of genetic predisposition, poor eating habits, and physical inactivity. Lack of insulin can cause type I diabetes, whereas overeating leads to obesity and can be a causative factor for type II diabetes.

People with diabetes cannot take bread, pasta, and rice

  • Fact: It is better to avoid refined grains but limiting portion size can do wonders. You can indulge in these foods in moderation.


Diabetes is defined best as... See Answer

Is diabetes hereditary?

Diabetes is hereditary; your child is at a high risk of the condition but this does not necessarily mean they will develop it. In type I diabetes, a familial predisposition is present. In type II diabetes, there is a family of diabetes and poor lifestyle habits. 

The child’s risk increases in the following cases:

  • If the father has type I diabetes, the risk of the child is 1 in 17.
  • If the mother has type I diabetes and
    • The child was born before 25 years, the risk is 1 in 25.
    • The child was born after 25 years, the child's risk is 1 in 100.
  • If the father and mother develop diabetes before the age of 11 years, the child’s risk is between 1 in 10 and 1 in 4, respectively.
  • If the person has diabetes along with thyroid disease and poorly working adrenal gland and immune system disorder, the child's risk of the syndrome and type I diabetes is one in two.

Even if diabetes runs in families, like adults, it is possible to delay or prevent type II diabetes in children or youth by following a healthy lifestyle.

Type II diabetes can result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The risk of type II diabetes is higher in kids if the mother rather than the father has diabetes.

  • If the father has type II diabetes, the risk factor is about 30 percent.
  • If the mother has type II diabetes, the risk factor is slightly higher.
  • If both parents have diabetes, the risk factor increases to about 70 percent.

Mutation in any gene involved in controlling glucose levels can increase the risk of type II diabetes, which includes genes that control:

  • The production of glucose.
  • The production and regulation of insulin.
  • How glucose levels are sensed in the body.

Genes associated with type II diabetes risk include:

  • TCF7L2, which affects insulin secretion and glucose production
  • ABCC8, which helps regulate insulin
  • CAPN10, which is associated with type II diabetes risk in Mexican Americans
  • GLUT2, which helps move glucose into the pancreas
  • GCGR, a glucagon hormone involved in glucose regulation

Other factors that increase the risk of type II diabetes include:

Lifestyle choices that affect the development of type II diabetes include:

  • Lack of exercise: Physical activity has several benefits, including reducing the risk of type II diabetes.
  • Unhealthy meal planning choices: A meal high in fat and lacking fiber can increase the probability of type II diabetes.
  • Obesity: Being overweight increases the likelihood of insulin resistance and can lead to many other health conditions.

Can the risk of diabetes be reduced?

The risk of inheriting diabetes is inevitable; however, developing it can be prevented by following these methods:

  • Lead a healthy lifestyle by reducing weight.
  • Ensure a balanced diet with proper nutrition.
  • Avoid junk foods or fatty foods.
  • Exercise daily for 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Limit the intake of alcohol and refrain from tobacco.
  • Increase the intake of some essential minerals such as magnesium.
  • Monitor the blood sugar level from time to time.
  • Be careful about your annual eye checkups.
Medically Reviewed on 9/14/2022
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