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Diabetes

Does Eating Sugar Cause Diabetes?

06/15/2001

Question:

Does eating sugar cause diabetes?

Answer:

Sugar in the diet does not cause diabetes. Any type of carbohydrate in the diet (including simple sugars and the fruit, bread, and milk food groups) easily and quickly turn into glucose when food is digested. Glucose is used by the body for energy. We cannot survive without a constant supply of glucose.

Fats and proteins in the diet are also converted to glucose and other substances that can be used for energy, but the process is very slow. Therefore an ideal diet contains an appropriate mix of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, so that we have a constant supply of energy.

Insulin is a hormone that helps our bodies use glucose for energy. Diabetes occurs when there is absolute or relative insulin deficiency (less insulin than the body needs to use glucose effectively). There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is more common in children; it occurs when the cells that produce insulin stop producing insulin. Type 2 diabetes is more common in adults; it is caused by an imbalance between resistance to insulin and the body`s ability to produce insulin - the body is not as sensitive to insulin, making it harder for insulin to do it`s job and the cells which make insulin can`t keep up with the insulin requirements.

Currently there is no way to prevent Type 1 diabetes. However, it may be possible to reduce the risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. We can help insulin work better in our bodies by eating well-balanced meals (a mixture of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats), eating high sugar and high calorie foods only in moderation, keeping weight in a normal range, and exercising daily. These behaviors may help prevent the onset or progression of Type 2 diabetes in susceptible individuals.

Related Resources:

American Diabetes Association

For more information:

Go to the Diabetes health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Nancy J Morwessel, CNP, MSN, CDE Nancy J Morwessel, CNP, MSN, CDE
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Diabetes Center
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati