Many people associate sugar consumption with the onset of Type 2 diabetes. It is a topic that does need further exploration seeing that sugar is being consumed at rates much higher than what medical professionals suggest. In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) made a statement that people should try to limit their consumption to 25g (about 6 teaspoons) of added sugar a day.

In 2008, Americans were seen to be consuming an estimated 60lbs of added sugar yearly. Over the last several years, there has been a steady decline in sugar consumption; however, the number of new cases of diabetes has shown a trend of increasing over the years. This comparison does make you wonder if sugar does cause diabetes.

Does sugar cause diabetes?

Diabetes occurs when there is inability to produce insulin, or the insulin has a reduced ability to reduce blood sugar. Insulin is important in maintaining a glucose homeostasis, by storing excess sugars into the body’s tissues. Type 1 diabetes—the inability to produce adequate insulin—has been defined as an autoimmune dysfunction of the pancreas and can develop at any age.

Type 2 diabetes is marked by a reduction in insulin sensitivity. While it is associated with the onset of obesity, studies have not concluded that sugar intake alone will lead to type 2 diabetes. A meta-analysis showed that sugar intake and availability is closely related to diabetes prevalence. In this analysis, obesity had the tendency to heighten the prevalence of type 2 diabetes. A separate review noted that obesity may be a driving cause for diabetes. Having an increased weight lead to a series of mechanisms that may be closely linked with the onset type 2 diabetes. Another separate study suggested that fructose, a commonly found sugar, may have a direct mechanism that can influence the onset of diabetes.

Can I prevent diabetes?

Further research still needs to be done before we can draw conclusions on sugar’s influence. Diabetes is a complex disease and is still being studied to be fully understood. Cutting back on sugar consumption and engaging in habits that promote a decreased risk for obesity can be helpful in decreasing the likelihood of developing type 2 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.