Ditch the juices and swap them with whole fruits. A new study has found that boys who regularly consume sugary drinks and fruit juices during childhood and adolescence are at a heightened risk of Type 2 diabetes.

In a small-scale, long-term investigation involving approximately 500 children in Massachusetts, researchers discovered a correlation between consuming 8 ounces or more of sugary beverages and fruit juice during childhood and adolescence and an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in boys based on glycemic indicators. This association, however, was not observed in girls.

Meanwhile, consuming fresh fruits showed no association with either an increased or reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes.

"While these findings are preliminary, they support the existing evidence about the potential relationship between beverages with added sugar and long-term risk of Type 2 diabetes in children. Pediatricians and other health care professionals should caution young patients and their parents about sugary drinks and fruit juices when discussing healthy eating habits," said lead investigator Soren Harnois-Leblanc.

Around two-thirds of children and adolescents in the U.S. take at least one sugary drink daily, which includes beverages such as soda, lemonade, or an energy drink. In addition to the risk of weight gain, foods with added sugars, particularly sugary drinks, raise the risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and tooth decay. Around 40,000 people die from heart problems in connection with the consumption of too many sugary drinks.

In the study, the researchers examined how the consumption of sugary drinks, 100% fruit juices, and fresh fruits were associated with markers for developing Type 2 diabetes. Using dietary records, the researchers determined the average intake of these items throughout childhood and adolescence. Through a single blood test during fasting in late adolescence, around the age of 17, the researchers evaluated potential correlations with three Type 2 diabetes markers: insulin resistance, fasting blood glucose levels, and HbA1c levels.

"Each daily serving of sugary drinks (approx. 8 ounces) during childhood and adolescence among boys was associated with a 34% increase in insulin resistance; a 5.6 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) increase in fasting glucose levels; and a 0.12% increase in HbA1c levels in late adolescence," the researchers wrote.

Meanwhile, having 100% fruit juice regularly during childhood and adolescence was connected to a 0.07% rise in HbA1c levels in late adolescence for each daily serving of 100% fruit juice among the boys. Girls, on the other hand, experienced only a slight increase of 0.02%.

Even after accounting for factors such as socioeconomic status, child's and mother's body mass index, mother's age at the time of child's birth, maternal and paternal history of Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, overall diet quality, and lifestyle behaviors, the association persisted among boys.

However, consuming fresh fruit during childhood and adolescence did not seem to impact the chances of developing Type 2 diabetes in both boys and girls.

"Although several aspects of biology and behaviors differ between boys and girls, I would have expected to also find an association between sugar-sweetened beverages and fruit juice intake and the increases in insulin resistance, glycemia and HbA1c levels in late-adolescent girls. I was also surprised that eating whole fruits did not reduce the levels of these markers of Type 2 diabetes," Harnois-Leblanc said.