Drinking water instead of fizzy drinks could dramatically reduce your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes, scientists say. Researchers from Harvard University are presenting new evidence which shows replacing sugar-sweetened drinks with water can lead to weight loss and help reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes by seven per cent. Professor Frank Hu, from the Harvard School of Public Health, said: 'There is convincing evidence that regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with increased risk of obesity and diabetes, and emerging evidence that these beverages increase the risk for heart disease. Daily Mail 'To reduce risk of obesity and cardiometabolic diseases, it is important to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and replace them with healthier choices such as water and unsweetened tea or coffee. More than 2.8 million people in the UK have the chronic condition of diabetes, while another one million have it without realising, according to NHS figures. People who develop the Type 2 condition lose the ability to break down glucose into energy, which causes blood-sugar levels to rise. The immediate symptoms of hyperglycaemia include feeling thirsty and drowsy. It can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, which can eventually cause unconsciousness and even death. Diabetes raises the risk of heart disease by up to five times. Over time it can cause sight problems and nerve damage leading to foot ulcers. Patients are encouraged to exercise more and eat a healthier diet to help control the condition. Diabetes UK says 10 per cent of total NHS spending goes towards treating the condition and its complications. The International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk (ICCR), which conducted the research, says more than 100,000 people are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes every year, with 26 million Brits projected to be obese by 2030. ICCR scientific director, Dr Jean-Pierre Despres said: 'The epidemic prevalence achieved by abdominal obesity can be explained by our sedentary lifestyle and poor nutritional habits, among which an overconsumption of sugar-sweetened beverages plays a significant role. 'Until recently, these beverages have escaped the scrutiny that low-quality foods have received, but as our research shows, this certainly should not be the case. Kinvara Carey, general manager at the Natural Hydration Council, said: 'With the rising concern about obesity rates, it is useful to remind people of simple steps that can help us all towards a healthier lifestyle. 'Taking notice of what we drink can be just as important as watching what we eat. Water is the only liquid our bodies need to hydrate. It contains no calories or other added ingredients and, as such, is one of the healthiest ways to hydrate. The findings were published today at the Sustaining the Blue Planet: Global Water Education Conference in Montana, USA. A British Soft Drinks Association spokesman said: 'The cause of obesity and Type 2 diabetes is an excess of calories in the diet over calories expended in exercise, regardless of which food or drink those calories come from. 'Replacing drinks containing calories with drinks which are calorie-free can help those people who need to reduce their calorie intake. 'A range of drinks, including soft drinks, fruit juices, bottled water, tap water, milk, tea and coffee, can help provide the hydration the body needs, but bear in mind that they may contain calories if you are trying to limit or reduce your weight. 'Soft drinks, like all food and drink, should be consumed as part of a balanced diet. Daily Mail