There is no simple answer to the question: can you get diabetes from eating too much sugar? Type II diabetes is characterized by an elevated blood sugar level. Therefore, it may seem logical to think that excessive sugar consumption can cause diabetes. In reality, there are many factors involved in the development of diabetes. Diabetes (especially type II diabetes) is a complex, multifactorial disease. For example, type I diabetes is resulted from an interplay of genetic and unknown factors, whereas type II diabetes usually arises from a combination of lifestyle and genetic factors. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of diabetes.

Regardless, sugar consumption (including the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks) can be a risk factor for diabetes (particularly type II diabetes). Examples of sugary drinks include sweet tea, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks, and soda. Providing hundreds of calories in a single serving, these sugary drinks dramatically increase blood sugar levels. For instance, sugary beverages like fruit punch generally contain more than 46g of sugar. A 12-ounce can of soda contains around 19g of sugar which is equivalent to the amount of 10 teaspoons of sugar. According to the American Diabetes Association, sugar-sweetened drinks should be avoided in order to prevent diabetes.

While studies have linked the consumption of sugary beverages to diabetes, there are many other risk factors that can contribute to the disease. This includes high calorie foods and obesity.

An understanding of all the risk factors (including sugar consumption) is essential to the prevention of diabetes. As recommended by the American Diabetes Association, it is important to exercise regularly, keep a healthy body weight, and have a balanced diet. The risk of developing diabetes cannot be eliminated by avoiding sugar (or any particular food group) entirely. However, eating food and drinks low in added sugar can contribute to weight loss and lower the risk for type II diabetes.

Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.