Sugary drinks linked to 1,600 Canadian deaths a year: Study

Report ties sugar-sweetened beverages to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer

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Liquid candy is killing us.

So say the results of a new study, which holds sugary drinks responsible for the death of 1,600 Canadians annually.

That’s more than four deaths per day, and higher than most other wealthy industrialized countries, said Dariush Mozaffarian, senior author and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston.

“We know that sugar-sweetened beverages are cause-and-effect for obesity and diabetes,” he told the Toronto Star. “There’s no intrinsic health value to it. There’s plenty of replacements. This is an easy problem to fix.

“We just have to stop drinking sugary beverages,” he added.

Those beverages include soda pop, energy and sports drinks as well as fruit beverages, sweetened iced teas and homemade sugary drinks like frescas.

The global report, published recently in the journal Circulation, evaluated statistics to estimate how many deaths were directly attributable to sugar-sweetened beverages in 2010. The conclusion: 184,000 worldwide.

The study found that diabetes induced by excessive consumption of sugary beverages was responsible for more than 70 per cent of those deaths, with cardiovascular disease and cancer trailing behind at 25 per cent and four per cent respectively.

And while 40 per cent fewer Canadians per capita die as a result of sugary drinks than in the United States, at least twice as many of us die due to the habit than in Great Britain and France, the study found.

Mozaffarian stressed the need to change the culture around soft drinks, “so that it’s not cool to drink a one-litre Big Gulp with your friends.”

He criticized sports and film celebrities for promoting energy drinks and soft drinks.

“Those movie stars would never do commercials and advertise tobacco to kids.”

Sugary drinks are the main source of added sugars in the Canadian diet, said Lesley James, a health policy analyst at the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

“Canadians are often unaware of how much sugar they’re consuming in beverage form. And the more you drink, the higher your risk is of these adverse health effects,” she said.

The foundation is pushing for a levy on sugary drink producers to force them to hike the price in hopes of scaring away customers. It says the revenue would go toward healthy lunch programs in schools across the country.

It is also calling for a legislated ban on free refills of fountain pop at chain restaurants.

“It’s liquid candy,” said Corinne Voyer, director of the Quebec Coalition on Weight-Related Problems.

A bottle of pop hits the body a lot harder than, say, a cookie, “because the sugar goes so fast into your body and your liver has to work to metabolize it all,” Voyer said. “It makes the liver very fat.”

Health Canada announced plans earlier this month for redesigned nutrition labels that will highlight added sugars and standardize portion sizes on food packaging.

“Health Canada is in the process of reviewing the evidence base for its current guidance on healthy eating to Canadians, including how the existing guidance is being used by health professionals, educators and consumer,” spokesperson Eric Morrissette wrote in an email.

Earlier this year, Ontario passed a law requiring large food chains to post calories for food and beverage items on menus.

The Tufts University study examined dietary surveys and national data across 187 countries from 1980 to 2010.

http://misc.thestar.com/tools/numbers/index.html?12Q6hQ8Yt63qXwEsFdFkHpPb3qzavqlcBCzHanTg8f7I

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One Food That Can Eat Away At Your Brain

Sugar and carbohydrates can harm brain structure and function

sugarThis article originally appeared on Live in the Now.

Scientists at Charité University Medical Centre in Berlin have found eating large amounts of sugar or carbohydrates is linked to a smaller hippocampus, the area of the brain involved in memory. This could explain why they also discovered that high levels of blood glucose are associated with impaired memory and could potentially lead to dementia. Thus, sugar can harm both brain structure and function.

Diabetes, a condition characterized by chronically elevated blood sugar, is linked to a higher risk of dementia and reduced hippocampus size. In view of these facts, the study sought to determine the effects of sugar on people who don’t have the illness. Researchers monitored the long- and short-term glucose levels of 141 non-diabetic adults as well as imaged their brain with an MRI scan and tested their memory. They found higher levels of glucose were linked to shrinkage of the hippocampus and impaired memory. The results suggest sugar can alter brain structure and harm memory even in people who don’t have diabetes.

Earlier Research Shows Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup and Refined Carbs Hinder Brain Function

The new research builds upon a study conducted two years ago at UCLA that showed the effects on the brain of high-fructose corn syrup, a common sweetener present in many foods. Researchers first allowed rats to spend a few days learning how to get through a maze. The next phase of the study involved feeding them a fructose solution for six weeks and then putting them back in the maze to see how well they could remember how to navigate it. The findings showed their memory of how to perform this activity was significantly impaired, and their brains showed a reduction in synaptic activity, which is the means the cells use to communicate with each other.

A great deal of solid scientific research shows cognitive decline can, indeed, take place as a result of consuming sugar and refined carbohydrates — even in small amounts, David Platt, Ph.D., CEO of Boston Therapeutics, tells Live in the Now. “In these studies, the consumption of sugar and carbs has been established as a definite risk factor in damaging both memory and thinking skills.”

“Just this year, for example, Mayo Clinic researchers found that people aged 70 and older who consume food high in carbs increase their likelihood of developing mild cognitive impairment fourfold, and the danger is also present with a diet heavy in sugar. Moreover, in 2009, a team at Wake Forest University established that cognitive functioning abilities decrease as average blood sugar levels increase in people with type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, many people are not fully aware of these conclusions, but they are as important to know as the dangers of cigarette smoking.”

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http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/sugar-may-harm-brain-health/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2683174/Is-SUGAR-responsible-rising-dementia-cases-High-levels-glucose-cause-memory-loss-study-finds.html

http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2012/05/16/fructose-may-make-you-stupid-but-omega-3s-can-smarten-you-back-up/

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Added sugars in diet linked to heart disease deaths

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Consuming too much sugar can increase the risk of premature death from heart disease, a finding that is fuelling calls for the Canadian and U.S. governments to offer dietary limits on sugar.

For an adult consuming 2,000 calories a day, drinking the equivalent of a bottle of pop sold in vending machines would exceed the level that a new U.S. study suggests raises the risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD).

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Excess sugar added not only to desserts but many other processed foods isn’t as benign as once thought. (Canadian Press)

“A higher percentage of calories from added sugar is associated with significantly increased risk of CVD mortality,” lead author Quanhe Yang of the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and co-authors conclude in this week’s issue of the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

The researchers analyzed national health and diet surveys between 1988 and 2010 of more than 30,000 Americans with an average age of 44. They found the fatal heart risk became elevated once added sugar intake surpassed 15 per cent of total calories.

“Too much sugar does not just make us fat; it can also make us sick,” said Laura Schmidt, a health policy specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, who wrote a commentary accompanying the study.

Previously, sugar used in processed or prepared foods, such as sugar-sweetened beverages, dairy desserts, candy, ready-to-eat cereals and yeast breads, has been linked to increased risks for non-fatal heart problems and with obesity. Naturally occurring sugars in fruit aren’t included.

Sugar is hugely important to the trillion-dollar processed food industry, said Michael Moss, a journalist in New York and author of the book, Salt Sugar Fat.

“They’re a very powerful lobby,” Moss said in an interview Tuesday.

“It’s very frustrating for consumers, especially when you go in and buy a product, look at the label and there’s a blank spot next to sugar. There is no government recommendation on how much sugar you should be capping yourself on and consuming in a day.”

The Canadian and U.S. governments don’t provide dietary limits for added sugar and there isn’t a consensus on how much is too much.

“What we really need as Canadians is more information,” said Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, an obesity doctor in Ottawa. “We need food labels that don’t allow for sugar synonyms and actually list the amount of added sugar there.”

To get a sense of sugar amounts, Freedhoff suggests that consumers take the number of grams of sugar on a package and divide by four to get the number of teaspoons.

Yang’s findings add to a growing body of rigorous studies that demonstrate added sugar “is not as benign as once presumed,” Schmidt said.

“Proponents of sugar taxes and sugar controls have a new arrow in their quiver and it’s this linkage to deadly heart disease,” Moss said. “That’s a very powerful tool in the hands of policymakers.”

Schmidt notes that the American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams a day or six teaspoons of sugar for women (five per cent of a 2,000-calorie a day diet) and 38 grams or nine teaspoons a day for men (7.5 per cent of daily calories).

In 2005, a panel at the Institute of Medicine, which advises the Canadian and U.S. governments, recommended added sugar make up less than 25 per cent of total calories. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends less than 10 per cent.

Expert committees from the Institute of Medicine have concluded there’s no evidence of harm attributed to current sugar consumption levels, the Canadian Sugar Institute said in a statement to CBC News.

A spokeswoman for the trade group said Canadian sugar intakes are about 11 per cent of total calories. “There is no magic number because our age, gender and activity levels are all different.”

In the study, 831 people died from heart disease during the 15-year followup. The researchers took
other factors that contribute to heart problems, including smoking, inactivity and excess weight into account.