Not all soft drinks are made equally — especially if you’re comparing the Australian version with its American and European counterparts.
The difference lies in the sugar used, researchers have revealed in the Medical Journal of Australia. Australian soft drinks were sweetened with sugar-cane derived sucrose, while the US soda was sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup and European soft drinks were sweetened with sucrose-rich sugar beet.
Which mightn’t seem like such a gigantic difference — after all, it’s all sugar, and mostly a combination of the sugars glucose and fructose — but the different compositions of the sugars affect our bodies in different ways. While there is a significant amount of research on the effects of high-fructose corn syrup and the damage it does to the body, particularly with lipid accumulation, research into sugar-cane derived sucrose is limited.
Australian and European soft drinks had approximately 22% more glucose than the American drinks, which were higher in fructose. This is significant: glucose (but not fructose) rapidly elevates plasma glucose and insulin levels, which are known contributors to Type 2 diabetes.
“The potential health implications of regional differences in soft drink sugar content have not previously been examined,” the study claims. “While the potential adverse effects of fructose overconsumption, particularly lipid accumulation, have been widely reported, those of Australian soft drinks containing high glucose concentrations have not been investigated.”
Considering that 39% of Australian men and 29% of Australian women regularly consume soft drinks, this is certainly something that needs more investigation.