The Daisy - Diabetes AutoImmunity Study in the Young - is one I've read about before (maybe even posted about before). It follows children with close family members with type 1 diabetes, from birth, looking to try to find out what causes type 1 diabetes. The study has been ongoing for a little more than ten years.
Today, DAISY released something of a bombshell. The study authors say that among the 142 children with diabetes antibodies, the 42 children who have diabetes now consumed significantly more sugar and sugar-sweetened drinks, and the association is strong enough to say that it's not random.
Now, if I was reading this without an emotional investment- or perhaps because I've heard "You're so skinny you must have a sweet tooth" I would probably read this as saying that sugar causes type 1 diabetes.
However, the study authors don't QUITE say that. What they are saying however, is that it's very likely that sugar speeds up the development of type 1 diabetes in those who are developing it. Sugar intake didn't, after all, change the risk of having antibodies, and the kids in the study are all still below the median age of type 1 diabetes diagnosis; among the 100 kids who are antibody positive but still non-diabetic are surely many kids who will have diabetes ten years from now.
Looking at this data, it's possible that after ten years the association between sugar consumption and having diabetes will be gone, because the sugar didn't really change who got it, just how fast.
It's also possible that sugar intake will turn out to have caused diabetes in some of the antibody positive- we know that some people with diabetes antibodies stay non-diabetic.
Past papers I have read on nutrient consumption in relatives of type 1 diabetics did not show any relation between sugar consumption and developing diabetes. However, they didn't look only at antibody positive people; and perhaps the sugar consumption only matters after the antibodies are there- maybe the overall impact is too tiny to see when you look at a large population.
Depending on how the study comes out ten years hence, I may find myself in the smug position of being able to say that how much sugar I ate has nothing to do with ME developing diabetes (dx at age 17 after all). Or... I may not.
For the record, the first monetary purchase I ever made (illicitly, at age 3) was a sugar-sweetened beverage. My household eats a much lower-sugar diet than most American households, and especially we did then. I spent more than two years eating nothing with "sugar" or "corn syrup" in the ingredients when I was a preteen. However, I do have a sweet tooth. And at this point? I'm not regretting it yet.
The full text is NOT free. Here's the abstract.