Expert Q&A

Diabetes Causes: Does Sugar Cause Diabetes?

Can too much sugar cause diabetes?

Do not be misled by the fact that diabetics have higher blood sugar levels than normal. The problem in diabetes is not what is eaten, but how much. For most adults with diabetes, the problem arises from being overweight.

When one eats, the pancreas sends insulin into the bloodstream. There, the insulin stimulates the cells of the muscles and liver to take in the sugar. Sugar is either:

  • Burned off
  • Stored as starch in the muscles and liver
  • Converted into the fat found in fat cells.

All excess calories, whether from sugar, protein, or fat, are stored. Too many calories of any kind causes weight gain. When those genetically predisposed to diabetes gain too much weight, they will produce insulin slower or stop responding to insulin, causing their blood sugar to rise even higher. Once diabetes develops, too much sugar or too much of any food elevates the diabetic's blood sugar. When blood sugar is too high for too long, the body suffers from progressive organ damage.

So, while sugar can be a contributing factor, too much sugar cannot cause diabetes. Instead, be aware of high caloric intake.

John Messmer, MD
Contributing Expert

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