An international study done by ANU has strengthened the global campaign for a sugar tax, finding thousands of cases of type 2 diabetes could be prohibited if people stopped drinking sugary drinks every day. These results come from the Thai Cohort Study, which was carried out from 2005 to 2013, which included a nation-wide sample of nearly 40,000 adults.
The research team had used a new statistical technique that called mediation analysis to find out can sugary drink consumption increased the risk of type 2 diabetes also increased, independently of obesity and weight gain. Keren Papier lead author from ANU said type 2 diabetes killed millions of people globally per year and evidences from around the globe showed that a reduction in sugary drink consumption would reduce rates of type 2 diabetes. Ms Papier, a PhD candidate from the ANU Research School of Population Health said that a reduction in sugary drink consumption is likely reducing the rates of diabetes in Australia.
Several countries including USA, Mexico, France and Chile have already started acting on sugary drinks by imposing or committing to a sugar tax. Findings from the US and Mexico show that applying the tax has led to a 17 and 21 percent decrease, respectively in the purchase of taxed beverages among low-income households. The tax has raised over USD 2.6 billion in Mexico.
“Sugary drinks are an ideal target for public health interventions to help control the type 2 diabetes epidemic since they don’t poses any nutritional value and do not protect against disease,” Ms Papier added. Over 4,000 cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented annually in the Thailand if people avoided drinking sugary drinks daily. Mainly Thai women, who are at double the risk of type 2 diabetes from drinking sugary drinks, would be the main beneficiaries.
Between 1983 to 2009, study found that the average Thai person’s sugar intake jumped from 13kg to 31kg per year. Ms Papier said research in several rich countries had shown that women globally were at higher risk of type 2 diabetes from drinking soft drinks. Women are more sensitive because they generally have lower muscle mass and energy needs compared with men.
ANU conducted the study with QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and the Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University in Thailand. This is part of a larger study of the health-risk transition to chronic disease underway in the middle-income countries and the information from the Thailand is leading to a better understanding of multi-level forces driving the process worldwide.