Entries in Beverages (6)


Waterlogged America: Do We Drink Too Much?

Comstock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- How much water should we drink?  It's a debate that seems to never be put to rest in part because doctors and health organizations send conflicting messages.

Many physicians will offer up the eight-glasses-a-day adage, though there is no actual research suggesting why this amount should be a goal.  For our skin, for our waistline, for our kidneys -- little snippets of advice seem to be perpetually passed around, all consolidating in a singular chant: drink more water, it's good for you.

But why?  This is the question that a group of dissenting medical opinions have been posing over the past few years.  In a nutshell, their argument is this: there's no evidence that drinking more water helps our health, so shouldn't we just drink when we're thirsty?

That's the take-home message Dr. Margaret McCartney, a Scottish physician, is putting forth in her opinion piece published in the British Medical Journal Tuesday.

The concept that we must drink six to eight glasses of fluids a day to prevent dehydration is "not only nonsense, but is thoroughly debunked nonsense," she writes.

McCartney is up in arms about the western world's tendency to over promote water in large part because she feels that promotion is guided by the beverage industry, not by medical science.

"We can emphasize non-evidenced based things too much," she told ABC News, which detracts from the real health messages we should be sending about exercise diet, and not smoking.

McCartney also calls out several water myths that are currently promoted by European bottled water producer, Danone: that drinking water will help you lose weight, that kids need to drink more water in order to concentrate in school, and that the lack of those eight glasses a day will lead to health problems.

"There is still no evidence that we need to drink more than we naturally want," she writes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Support for Soda Tax Fizzles at the American Medical Association

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- In the controversial debate over imposing a soda and sugary beverage tax to fight obesity, the American Medical Association has declined to enter the fray -- at least for now.

At this week's annual meeting of the AMA's policy-making House of Delegates, nearly 300 delegates debated and ultimately opposed giving AMA support to a sugar-sweetened beverage tax, saying it needed more information on the topic, says AMA President Dr. Cecil Wilson.

"They said they were not sure that taxing these products would be appropriate and wanted to know more about the different types of sweeteners and their impact on public health.  There will be a report back next year on the topic," he says.

Though president of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Thomas Freiden, has argued in favor of a penny-per-ounce tax on sugared drinks to both decrease consumption and raise sorely needed funds for health care, efforts to impose such a tax have met with staunch opposition by the beverage industry, and some doctors and academics.

"The taxes aren't going to be very effective because people's demand for sugary beverages is resistant to small price changes.  When it comes down to it, people will probably just pay the few cents more and buy it anyway...which only disproportionately hurts those with less economic means," says Richard Williams of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, who has studied the estimated impact of a beverage tax.

The strongest force opposing a soda tax has been, naturally, the American Beverage Association (ABA), the trade organization representing the interests of beverage companies in the U.S.

"Taxes don't make people healthier, making smart dietary decisions does," says ABA spokesman Chris Gindlesperger. "Our industry makes products with calories in them.  We know that.  But we believe that seeking to solve a complex health issue like obesity with discriminatory tax on beverages is not based in sound science," he says.

The ABA has lobbied against such a tax since it was first introduced in the 1990s.  According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the ABA currently devotes more than $18 million to fund lobbyists in Washington, D.C.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


CDC: Teens Drink Plenty of Water, But Still Have Too Much Soda

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- New Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research says that high school students consume sugar-sweetened beverages like soda more often than they should, despite reporting that they consume enough water, reports MedPage Today.

The researchers surveyed more than 11,000 teens, and found that just over 72 percent reported drinking at least one glass of water each day over a seven day period.  Forty-two percent drank at least one glass of milk and 30.2 percent reported drinking 100 percent fruit juice each day during the same period.

While the study's authors say these beverages are all healthy sources of key nutrients, they also reported that nearly one quarter (24.3 percent) of the teens also had a sugary soda each of the seven days, 16 percent had a sports drink, and nearly 17 percent drank another kind of sugary beverage.

There were some encouraging signs, however. CDC researchers' findings, which appear in the latest issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, show that high schoolers are consuming fewer sugar-sweetened beverages and more natural fruit drinks, but parents should continue to monitor and limit the amount of artificially and sugar-sweetened beverages their teens are drinking.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sugary Drinks Could Increase Blood Pressure, Researchers Say

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It may be necessary for people with high blood pressure to watch their sugar as well as their salt intake, according to a new study. 

The study, published in the journal Hypertension, found that individuals who consumed the most sugar-sweetened drinks such as soda and fruit juices had higher blood pressure.  The problem may be worsened when salt is added.

"Individuals who consume more soda and other sugar-sweetened soft drinks may have higher blood pressure levels than those who consume less, and the problem may be exacerbated by higher salt intake," Dr. Ian J. Brown of Imperial College London wrote in an email to ABC News and MedPage Today.

Researchers in the study focused on 2,696 patients from the U.S. and U.K., taking information from urine collections and blood pressure readings.  The patients also reported on their diets over a four-day period.

The collected data showed a consistent increase in blood pressure with every extra fruit beverage or soda consumed by a patients.

Study authors also reported that people who consumed more sugar-sweetened drinks on a daily basis also tended to have less healthy diets overall than those who had less sugary beverages.

"It appears that empty calories from these drinks displace calories from other foods that have beneficial nutrients such as minerals and vitamins," Dr. Brown said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


New 'Nutrition Keys' Coming to Front of Food Packages

Photo Courtesy - Grocery Manufacturers Association/Food Marketing Institute (PHOENIX) -- The leading food manufacturers and retailers in America introduced a new labeling system Monday that will call for the placement of nutrition facts on the front of food items to help consumers make informed decisions when they shop for groceries.

Called Nutrition Keys, the new labels will feature information on calories, saturated fat, sodium and total sugars content on the front of food and beverage products.  The nutrition facts will be easy to read and to the point, and will also feature daily value percentages as recommended by the U.S. government. 

Smaller products, like beverages, may only feature caloric content, while larger items could add “nutrients to encourage” -- potassium, fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium and iron -- in addition to the four basic icons.

The program is a joint venture between the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute, and was created after first lady Michelle Obama requested it in March of 2010.

Food and beverage companies will begin to adopt the Nutrition Keys icon this year, with the first products to feature them hitting store shelves in a few months.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sugary Drinks Increase Risk of Diabetes

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) -- Overloading on sugary drinks could increase your risk of developing diabetes, according to findings reported in the journal Diabetes Care by Harvard's Vasanti Malik and colleagues.

People who drink one or two sugar-sweetened beverages a day, like soda or vitamin water, have a 26-percent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared with those who barely drink any, reports MedPage Today

Malik and colleagues said that patients should replace sugary drinks with healthier alternatives like water in order to reduce their risk of obesity and chronic diseases.

"A lot of decisions [to avoid junk food] have been guided by weight," Malik told MedPage. "We now have outcomes data to say that you can actually have a higher risk of diabetes by making these kinds of choices."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio