Cutting sugary drinks out of diet would significantly reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to the results of an Australian-led international study published on Friday.
Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) studied nearly 40,000 people in Thailand between 2005 and 2013, and found that thousands of cases of the disease could be prevented annually if they gave up drinking sugary and fizzy drinks.
"Over 4,000 cases of Type 2 diabetes could be prevented annually in the Thai population if people avoided drinking sugary drinks daily," lead author of the study, Keren Papier, said on Friday.
"Thai women, who are at double the risk of Type 2 diabetes from drinking sugary drinks, would be the main beneficiaries (of cutting it out of one's diet)."
Papier said the results have further highlighted the need for a tax to be put on sugary drinks, because in addition to reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes, a sugar tax would do wonders for the Australian government's bottom line, citing a similar tax in Mexico that has so far raised USD2.6 billion.
"A reduction in sugary drink consumption is likely to reduce rates of diabetes in Australia," Papier said.
"Several countries, including Mexico, the United States, France and Chile, have already started acting on sugary drinks by imposing or committing to a sugar tax.
"Findings from the United States 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.
"Sugary drinks are an ideal target for public health interventions to help control the Type 2 diabetes epidemic since they have no nutritional value and do not protect against disease."
The team uncovered that between 1983 and 2009, the average sugar intake for Thais jumped from 13 kg. per year to 31 kg. per year.