Sugar and Type 2 Diabetes


Dr Evelyn Chang, MSc, PhD, APD

3/15/2021 2 min read

Sugar is the simplest form of carbohydrate-containing food. When you ingest sugar, it is directly absorbed into the bloodstream without the need for your gut to break them down. What this means is that ingesting sugar will spike your blood sugar level in a very short period of time.

Where does the sugar come from?

The diagram below illustrates nicely where the sugar comes from.

added sugars and intrinsic sugars

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that 'free' sugars to be no more than 10% of your daily kilojoule intake to prevent unhealthy weight gain and dental caries, or less than 12 teaspoons or 54g of 'free' sugar per day. This means that If you have a can of coke (9 teaspoons or 40.5g  'free' sugar ), you only have 3 teaspoons (13.5g) sugar allowance left for other food for the rest of the day. Therefore, the best advice is to limit your sugary drinks consumption.

If you have diabetes, best practice guidelines recommend avoiding foods and drinks containing added sugars such as confectionary, sugar sweetened soft drinks and cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin waters, energy and sports drinks. Some of the sugary drink examples are shown in the diagram below. Why so? When you have diabetes, your body becomes less efficient in lowering your blood sugar level and so you would want to spread your sugar load throughout the day. It is very important to stabilize your blood sugar level and not overload your body with too much sugar at any time point.  If sugary drink consumption has become a part of your eating habit, a dietitian can work with you and support you to stabilize your blood sugar level.

sugary drink


Food Standards Australia and New Zealand. Sugar. Published Auguest 2010. Accessed March 14, 2021.

NACCHO. NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alerts. Published December 16, 2016. Accessed March 14, 2021.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. General practice management of type 2 diabetes: 2016–18. East Melbourne, Vic: RACGP, 2016.


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