ANN ARBOR (WWJ) – A new British study suggests just one sugar-sweetened beverage a day, can raise the risk of developing type two diabetes by as much to 22 percent.

Using data from 350,000 people in eight European countries, researchers found that every extra 12 fluid ounce (340 ml) serving of sugar-sweetened drink raises the risk of diabetes by 22 percent compared with drinking just one can a month or less. A 12-fluid-ounce serving is about equivalent to a normal-sized can of Coke.

This is consistent with findings from U.S. studies that find that soda drinking is associated with a 25 percent increased diabetes risk.

Experts agree that sugary drinks are the biggest source of empty calories and a major contributor to health issues for Americans and Europeans alike.

This includes University of Michigan registered dietitian Sacha Ulemen , who says, if you’re a regular soda drinker, you should think about smart substitutions: “Flavored sparkling waters that don’t have artificial sweeteners or sugar; flavoring their water with things like lemon, or putting some kind of fruit — dropping a piece of fruit in their water.”

Ulemen old WWJ Health Reporter Sean Lee that fruit juice is a slightly better choice, but only in moderation.

“Different juices give you different vitamins and things like that, so there is that benefit. But you’re also not getting the fiber that you would get in the actual fruit,” she said.

Uleman adds, breaking a soda addiction ultimately means re-training your taste buds so you don’t crave extremely sweet drinks, and that can take time.

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