Debunked: 150 Calories of sugar leads to 11-fold increase in the prevalence of diabetes [1.1%]

Mick West

Staff member
A recent article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine^ is being widely reported, with varying degrees of accuracy. One piece of data in the article in particular seems to suggest that if you consume an extra 150 calories of sugar daily (e.g. one extra can of soda) then you get an 11-fold increase in your risk of type two diabetes:

However this is not correct, the article gives the source of this claim: (
Which says:
The problem where is that what the BJSM article is describing as an increase in the prevalence of diabetes is actually an increase in the increase in the prevalence of diabetes. The key being that it's compared to "an identical 150 calories obtained from fat or protein." which increases the prevalence by 0.1%, and since 1.1% is 11x 0.1%, then that's an "11-fold increase".

Or put another way, people who consuming an extra 150 calories of sugar will, on average, have a 10.4% incidence of diabetes, compared to 9.4% for people who consume an extra 150 calories of fat or protein, or 9.3% for people who don't have that extra 150 calories. Or:

Unfortunately this is not at all clear in the numerous retellings of the story, and nor is it clear that they are talking about daily calories: (
Which leads to responses like: (
The more the retelling strays from the original text, the more significant the error becomes: ( (
Here they don't even note this is compared to other sources of calories. At this point it can't really be considered to be simply unclear, these statements are flat wrong.

And when reduced to a Tweet, the misrepresentation is obviously going to get repeated as fact:

Others are simply confusing: (
"11 times more likely to increase risk" is meaningless, unless you know how much it increases the risk.

These various levels of inaccurate retelling are indicative of a common problem in web journalism. Many sites simply re-tell a story obtained from another source. This in turn may well be retold. And as the writers re-word things to avoid the appearance of plagiarism, they gradually introduce errors, particularly if they do not understand the topic, or the math.

Here the original data is actually in the rather dusty study: "The relationship of sugar to population-level diabetes prevalence: an econometric analysis of repeated cross-sectional data" - so far back down the food chain of article retelling that nobody is likely to check it. At most they might go back to the BJSM article, with the rather misleading "11-fold" description, and not realize they are talking about a difference between an increase of 0.1% and 1.1%, and so they don't clarify.

Then somebody writes and article based on their article, and the error becomes assumed fact.

One of the best attempts at clarifying this was from someone who clearly understood what the numbers meant, and did a better job than the BJSM, but still unfortunately fell short: (
This is still not clear, as you still have "diabetes prevalence rose 11-fold", and it should have been "the increase in diabetes prevalence rose 11-fold".

And really using a multiple is rather meaningless, as what we are talking about is a difference in multiples. 10.4% and 9.4% vs. 9.3%. If the non sugar figure was just slightly different at 9.3%, then instead of 0.1% vs. 1.1% giving "11-fold", you'd have 0.0% vs. 1.1%, and so to be consistent you would have to say "for every excess 150 calories of sugar (say, one can of cola), there was a infinite increase in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes"
Last edited:

Dan Wilson

Senior Member
Just for reference, a mechanism for how type II diabetes develops, the image is from Principles of Biochemistry chapter 23. A lot of factors are thought to contribute to its development, but it is thought that overconsumption or overproduction of triacylglycerols (TAGs) (fats) is a huge factor. Energy from excess sugar is often stored as glycogen or fat, so a high sugar diet could certainly contribute to the risks of developing diabetes.


Santa's sidekick

Senior Member
Mick, Metabunk is a gov disinfo site, we get it. But why be a shill for 'big sugar' as well? ;)

(Here, the 'wink' emoji is a sarcasm trip wire.)

Mick West

Staff member
And just to be clear, what is being debunked here is the "11-fold increase". There's still quite a significant increase in diabetes prevalence correlating with sugar availability, just nowhere near what the language suggests.
Thread starter Related Articles Forum Replies Date
Mendel Debunked: The WHO did not take the Taiwan CDC seriously Coronavirus COVID-19 0
A Why 9/11 Truthers Are Wrong About The Facts | (Part 1 w/ Mick West) 9/11 1
Mendel Debunked: Radar Waves Affect Clouds General Discussion 0
Pumpernickel Need Debunking: Foucault's Pendulum debunked through Mach's principle (the Earth is a static object in the center of the Universe) Science and Pseudoscience 13
M Ufos arrive to the central zone of Chile. (Debunked). Skydentify - What is that Thing in the Sky? 0
Jesse3959 FE Debunked with water tube level - 187 foot building 21.2 miles away below eye level Flat Earth 0
H Debunked: Cadillac Mountain from 220 miles Flat Earth 7
Jesse3959 FE Claim Debunked: JTolan Epic Gravity Experiment - Flat earther disproves Perspective! (or his instruments.) Flat Earth 0
Mick West Debunked: DoD prepares for martial law in CONUS: Conspiracy Theories 0
Oystein Debunked: AE911T: CNBC Anchor Ron Insana claims Building 7 a Controlled Implosion 9/11 13
A Debunked: NASA tampered with the original television audio of the Apollo 11 moon landing Conspiracy Theories 1
Greylandra Debunked: media headline "Judea declares war on Germany" [boycott] Conspiracy Theories 20
Mick West Discovery Channel's "Contact: Declassified Breakthrough" was debunked 2.5 years ago UFOs, Aliens, Monsters, and the Paranormal 8
Joe Hill Debunked: "The North Face of Building 7 Was Pulled Inward" 9/11 66
A Debunked : Fake Set Moon Landing with TV Camera and Stairs Conspiracy Theories 3
Mick West Debunked: Photo with Sun Rays at Odd Angles Flat Earth 0
Staffan Debunked: Wikileaks releases unused footage of moon landing (Capricorn One movie scenes) Conspiracy Theories 2
Mick West Debunked: Neil deGrasse Tyson : "That Stuff is Flat" Flat Earth 10
Mendel Debunked: Air Map of the World 1945 is a flat Earth map Flat Earth 0
Trailblazer Debunked: Trees being cut down "because they block 5G" (tree replacement in Belgium) 5G and Other EMF Health Concerns 44
deirdre Debunked: Exemption from military service doc proves Jews had foreknowledge of WW2 (fake leaflet) General Discussion 0
Trailblazer Debunked: Obama called Michelle "Michael" in a speech. (Referring to Michael Mullen Jr) Quotes Debunked 0
Rory Debunked: 120-mile shot of San Jacinto proves flat earth Flat Earth 39
Rory Debunked: The Lunar Cycle affects birth rates Health and Quackery 26
Rory Debunked: Study shows link between menstrual cycle and the moon Health and Quackery 30
novatron Debunked: California Wildfires Match the Exactly Path of the Proposed Rail System Wildfires 3
Rory Debunked: "You must love yourself before you love another" - fake Buddha quote Quotes Debunked 7
W Debunked: Qanon claims there have been 51k sealed indictments filed this year. Current Events 11
K Debunked: Audio of David Rockefeller "leaked" speech in 1991 [Audio Simulation] General Discussion 2
tadaaa Debunked: Fake photos-Novichok attack Russian 'agents' (side by side gates) General Discussion 34
Mick West Debunked: XYO Device Replacing GPS, Saving $2 Million a Day General Discussion 23
Mick West Debunked: "Tip Top" as a QAnon Clue from Trump [He's said it before] Conspiracy Theories 3
Whitebeard Debunked: Nibiru FOUND? Mysterious gigantic rogue planet spotted lurking outside our solar system Science and Pseudoscience 1
Mick West Debunked: "There Exists a Shadowy Government" — Daniel Inouye Quotes Debunked 0
Mick West Debunked: Delta Lambda Compression General Discussion 16
MisterB Debunked: Isle of Man from Blackpool at water level proves flat earth [refraction] Flat Earth 19
JFDee Debunked: Wernher von Braun confirmed that rockets can't leave earth Conspiracy Theories 23
Mick West Debunked: Missing $21 Trillion / $6.5 Trillion / $2.3 Trillion - Journal Vouchers Conspiracy Theories 33
MikeG Debunked: Obamacare Article 54 (Satire FB Page) General Discussion 2
Mick West Debunked: "Deadly Ultraviolet UV-C and UV-B Penetration to Earth’s Surface:" [Stray Light] Contrails and Chemtrails 30
Astro Debunked: Apollo Lunar Module Hatch Too Small for Spacesuit Science and Pseudoscience 0
Mick West Debunked: NIST's Lack of Explanation for WTC7 Freefall [They Have One - Column Buckling] 9/11 38
Jedo Debunked: WTC7 was the only building not on the WTC block that had a fire on 9/11 9/11 0
Mick West Debunked: Thermite Slag on WTC beams [Oxy Cutting Slag] 9/11 2
Mick West Debunked: The WTC 9/11 Angle Cut Column. [Not Thermite, Cut Later] 9/11 137
Mick West Debunked: AE911Truth's Analysis of Slag Residue from WTC Debris 9/11 20
Dan Wilson Debunked: Steven Crowder: The AIDS epidemic was a hoax Health and Quackery 9
Dan Wilson Debunked: Infowars product damages sperm Health and Quackery 2
Mick West Debunked: Corbett Report Targeted by Google/Youtube Conspiracy Theories 37
Mick West Debunked: US "False Flag" Plan to Start War with the USSR [Cuba Intervention Pretext Idea] Conspiracy Theories 1
Related Articles

Related Articles