Drinking one can of soft drink a day can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes by a fifth, scientists warn.
A major study found the risk rose by as much as 22 per cent for every 12oz serving of sugar-sweetened drink a typical can consumed per day.
Soft drinks have previously been linked with weight gain and obesity a well-known trigger for type 2 diabetes but researchers say the effect goes beyond body weight and may be caused by an increase in insulin resistance.
The study of almost 30,000 people living in eight European countries, including Britain, follows US research which made near-identical findings. Scientists at Imperial College London wanted to determine whether the link held good in Europe, where soft drinks are less popular than in America.
Professor Nick Wareham, of the Medical Research Council’s epidemiology unit, who oversaw the study, said it was more evidence that people should be cautious about the amount of sugary soft drink they consumed.
He said: ‘This finding adds to growing global literature suggesting that there is a link between consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, obesity and risk of development of type 2 diabetes.
‘This observation suggests that consumption of these beverages should be limited as part of an overall healthy diet.’
Researchers found that the risk of type 2 diabetes rose 22 per cent for people having one 12oz (336ml) serving of sugar-sweetened soft drink a day compared with those not having any. For those having two soft drinks, it rose a further 22 per cent over those having one drink.