Myth: Eating sugar causes diabetes
Fact: Eating sugar doesn’t cause diabetes in the same smoking-gun way that cigarettes cause cancer, notes Prevention, but sugar seems to play an indirect role, and it’s just plain common sense to limit your intake. For one thing, eating too much sugar can lead to obesity, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, says David G. Marrero, PhD, president of Health Care & Education at the American Diabetes Association. But beyond that association, recent research suggests that sugary drinks can increase diabetes risk, even after accounting for weight. A 2015 BMJ study found that consuming one sugar-sweetened drink a day raises type 2 diabetes risk by 18 percent. And a JAMA study found that the risk of diabetes in women almost doubled when they went from drinking from 1 or fewer sugary drinks a week to 1 or more per day over a four-year period. These rapidly absorbed sugars may damage cells in the pancreas that secrete insulin, according to Prevention. Sugar is hidden in countless packaged foods, so you’re probably consuming more than you think. Look at nutrition labels and avoid highly processed foods. The World Health Organization recommends sticking to no more than six teaspoons (or 24 grams) a day for the average adult. Start these healthy habits to help prevent diabetes.
Myth: Thin people don’t get type 2 diabetes
Fact: While some 85 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, that means 15 percent of people with diabetes are at a healthy weight, according to a recent article in Harvard Health Publications. In fact, a 2012 study in JAMA found that normal-weight people with type 2 diabetes have double the risk of dying from heart disease and other causes than overweight people with diabetes. Genes can play a role, as can having an excess of visceral fat, or fat that isn’t jiggly and pinch-able, but rather clings to your abdominal organs, where it affects the production of inflammatory compounds that damage your liver and pancreas and could lower your insulin sensitivity, putting you at risk of type 2 diabetes, molecular imaging expert Jimmy Bell, MD, told Women’s Health magazine.
Regardless of weight, if you are age 45 or older get your blood sugar levels checked every three years, especially if you have risk factors like being sedentary; having a family history of diabetes or personal history of gestational diabetes; heart disease; high blood pressure; and/or high cholesterol.