Scientists from Stanford, Berkeley and San Francisco universities examined data on sugar availability in 175 countries over the last 10 years, and compared the information with diabetes rates.
Regardless of obesity rates in the countries analysed, an increased level of sugar in the population's food consumption was linked to higher rates of diabetes. And the researchers claim the 150 sugar-based calories in the average can of pop are an astonishing 11 times more dangerous than calories from other sources.
Lead author Dr Sanjay Basu, of Stanford University, explained: "It was quite a surprise. We're not diminishing the importance of obesity at all but this data suggests that at a population level, there are additional factors that contribute to diabetes risk besides obesity and total calorie intake, and that sugar appears to play a prominent role."
Though the researchers emphasised that the findings do not conclusively prove that sugar causes diabetes, the study supports previous research that suggests the sweet addition affects the liver and pancreas.
According to the Daily Express, cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra said: "People need to be made aware that a lot of processed foods contain hidden sugars.
"Sugary drinks in particular are the worst culprit if you are consuming them on top of your daily calorie intake."
He added: "Sugary drinks have no nutritional value and in my view should not be sold to children, as not only do they increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes and obesity, but they also rot your teeth."
Dr Matthew Hobbs of Diabetes UK agreed that limiting the amount of sugar you eat is "an important step in achieving a healthy, balanced diet", but said: "At the moment the evidence is not strong enough for us to be confident that sugar consumption has a direct effect on risk of Type 2 diabetes."
What do you think? Should the general public be made more aware of the 'hidden sugars' in food and drinks? Leave your comments below...