Background: Sugar-sweetened beverages are associated with type 2 diabetes. To assess whether this association holds for the fructose-containing sugars they contain, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies.
Methods: We searched MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL and the Cochrane Library (through June 2016). We included prospective cohort studies that assessed the relation of fructose-containing sugars with incident type 2 diabetes. Two independent reviewers extracted relevant data and assessed risk of bias. We pooled risk ratios (RRs) using random effects meta-analyses. The overall quality of the evidence was assessed using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) system.
Results: Fiffeen prospective cohort studies (251 261 unique participants, 16 416 cases) met the eligibility criteria, comparing the highest intake (median 137, 35.2 and 78 g/d) with the lowest intake (median 65, 9.7 and 25.8 g/d) of total sugars, fructose and sucrose, respectively. Although there was no association of total sugars (RR 0.91, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.76-1.09) or fructose (RR 1.04, 95% CI 0.84-1.29) with type 2 diabetes, sucrose was associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes (RR 0.89, 95% CI 0.80-0.98). Our confidence in the estimates was limited by evidence of serious inconsistency between studies for total sugars and fructose, and serious imprecision in the pooled estimates for all 3 sugar categories.
Interpretation: Current evidence does not allow us to conclude that fructose-containing sugars independent of food form are associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Further research is likely to affect our estimates.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, no. NCT01608620.
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