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. 2013;8(2):e57873.
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057873. Epub 2013 Feb 27.

The Relationship of Sugar to Population-Level Diabetes Prevalence: An Econometric Analysis of Repeated Cross-Sectional Data

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Free PMC article

The Relationship of Sugar to Population-Level Diabetes Prevalence: An Econometric Analysis of Repeated Cross-Sectional Data

Sanjay Basu et al. PLoS One. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

While experimental and observational studies suggest that sugar intake is associated with the development of type 2 diabetes, independent of its role in obesity, it is unclear whether alterations in sugar intake can account for differences in diabetes prevalence among overall populations. Using econometric models of repeated cross-sectional data on diabetes and nutritional components of food from 175 countries, we found that every 150 kcal/person/day increase in sugar availability (about one can of soda/day) was associated with increased diabetes prevalence by 1.1% (p <0.001) after testing for potential selection biases and controlling for other food types (including fibers, meats, fruits, oils, cereals), total calories, overweight and obesity, period-effects, and several socioeconomic variables such as aging, urbanization and income. No other food types yielded significant individual associations with diabetes prevalence after controlling for obesity and other confounders. The impact of sugar on diabetes was independent of sedentary behavior and alcohol use, and the effect was modified but not confounded by obesity or overweight. Duration and degree of sugar exposure correlated significantly with diabetes prevalence in a dose-dependent manner, while declines in sugar exposure correlated with significant subsequent declines in diabetes rates independently of other socioeconomic, dietary and obesity prevalence changes. Differences in sugar availability statistically explain variations in diabetes prevalence rates at a population level that are not explained by physical activity, overweight or obesity.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1. Relationship between obesity and diabetes prevalence rates worldwide.
Obesity prevalence is defined as the percentage of the population aged 15 to 100 years old with body mass index greater than or equal to 30 kg/meters squared, from the World Health Organization Global Infobase 2012 edition. Diabetes prevalence is defined as the percentage of the population aged 20 to 79 years old with diabetes, from the International Diabetes Federation Diabetes Atlas 2011 edition. Three-letter codes are ISO standard codes for country names.
Figure 2
Figure 2. Adjusted association of sugar availability (kcal/person/day) with diabetes prevalence (% adults 20–79 years old).
Regression line is adjusted for all control variables listed in Table 1, including time-trends (period-effects).

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Grant support

The authors have no support or funding to report.
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