Entries in Soft Drinks (5)


Study: One Sugary Drink Per Day Raises Risk of Heart Disease for Men

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- The evidence linking sugar-sweetened beverages with an array of health problems -- including obesity and diabetes -- keeps piling up. And a new study adds one more potential risk to the list: coronary heart disease.

According to a new study, men who drink one sugar-sweetened beverage daily have a 20-percent higher risk of coronary heart disease than men who drink none.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health tracked nearly 43,000 participants in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which included male dentists, pharmacists, physicians, veterinarians and other health professionals ages 40 to 75, almost all of whom were of European descent.

For 22 years, the men filled out surveys about their diets and other health habits. The researchers also collected blood samples from more than 18,000 men who were demographically similar to those in the survey.

The results, published Monday in the American Heart Association's journal, Circulation, found that drinking 12 ounces of regular soda, fruit drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages daily was associated with a higher risk of heart disease, even after taking into account other cardiovascular risk factors, such as smoking, physical inactivity, alcohol use and a family history of heart disease.

Dr. Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and the lead author of the study, said the findings were notable because even relatively modest consumption of sugary beverages -- just one drink per day -- was associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

"These drinks should be treated as a treat, not for all the time," Hu said.

Sugar-sweetened beverages include regular soda, fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks and sugar-sweetened water.

A 2011 report from the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about 25 percent of Americans drink the equivalent of more than one can of soda each day. The study also found that men who drank daily sugar-sweetened beverages had certain markers of cardiovascular disease in their blood, including higher levels of lipids like triglycerides and lower levels of HDL, or "good," cholesterol.

Hu said increases in these markers could give some clues about the biological mechanisms that may connect sugary drinks and heart disease.

Previous research suggests that the link between sugary drinks and heart disease may exist for women as well. The current study's findings mirror those of a study of nearly 89,000 women, the Nurses' Health Study, which Hu and his colleagues published in 2009. That study found that women who drank one or less than two sugary drinks per day had a 23-percent increased risk of a heart attack.

The current study didn't find an association between diet drinks and cardiovascular disease, and previous studies have failed to link diet drinks with an increase in diabetes risk or weight gain. This may be because people who choose diet drinks might be more likely to develop better diets and healthier lifestyles overall. In the current study, the men who drank diet soda often got more exercise and smoked less.

But some nutrition experts hesitate to suggest that people simply replace sugar-sweetened beverages with diet drinks because of inconclusive evidence about the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners. Some research also suggests that diet soda can condition the taste buds to crave sweets, leading to higher sugar intake in other parts of the diet.

A growing body of research connects sugary drinks with increased risk of diabetes, weight gain, high blood pressure and a number of other chronic diseases. But nutrition experts note that the current study doesn't show that sugar-sweetened beverages cause heart disease. Consuming sugary drinks every day may simply indicate less healthy lifestyles that could lead to heart disease.

Nutrition experts emphasize that making any single ingredient out as the bad guy is a mistake.

"Attempting to blame or pinpoint any one cause for disease risk or overweight, fails to recognize that overall lifestyle is the key to health," said Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis.

The American Beverage Association, a trade organization representing the beverage industry, disputed the study's findings.

"Drinking sweetened beverages does not cause an increased risk of heart disease -- not based on this study or any other study in the available science," the ABA said in a statement, adding that a healthy weight, balanced diet and physical activity are the real keys to reducing the risk of heart disease.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pepsi Next: Half the Calories, All The Taste?

Filephoto/ Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With soda sales fizzling, Pepsi is hoping to lure back customers with a drink that may appeal to those who want the flavor of a regular soft drink, without the high calories.

At the end of March, Pepsi will launch what it is calling Pepsi Next. The new cola will have 60 calories, about half that of a regular Pepsi, but presumably more Pepsi flavor than Diet Pepsi.

“Pepsi is trying to basically come up with a good tasting mid-calorie cola which will keep the Pepsi consumers in the Pepsi franchise,” John Sicher, editor of Beverage Digest, told ABC News.

Sicher says this has been tried before. In 2001, both Coke and Pepsi introduced mid-calorie colas.

“Coke’s was C2, Pepsi’s was Pepsi Edge,” said Sicher. “They did not work then. Pepsi seems to believe that times are different now and consumers might want to try this kind of beverage.”

The beverages were taken off the market after five years because of low sales. Soft drink sales fell from 10 billion cases in 2005 to 9.4 billion in 2010, according to Beverage Digest.

Even as overall sales fell, diet soft drinks captured a bigger share of the soda market. The move by Pepsi, the nation’s number two cola company, drew a qualified thumbs-up from Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which has criticized high-calorie soft drinks.

“It is certainly healthier that regular Pepsi,” said Jacobson, “but not as good as diet Pepsi or water or seltzer.”

Jacobson added, “It sounds like they’re trying everything they can to boost sales (but) for people who are concerned about calories, which presumably is the target of this product, there are many other alternatives. So will this newest beverage gamble pay off?”

Beverage Digest’s Sicher isn’t sure. “My mother taught me never to predict the future,” he said. “I respect Pepsi’s market research. I think time will tell, I think we will know in nine to 12 months whether it will be successful or not.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Diet Soda Cause for Health Concerns in Older Adults?

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Diet sodas are popular among weight watchers, with millions of people drinking it to stave off calories. But is it possible some are paying a price in their health? New research suggests the low calories could come with higher risk.
A study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, followed more than 2,500 men and women age 69 and older.
Researchers at Columbia University and the University of Miami found that -- over the next 10 years -- those who drank a diet soda every day were 44 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack or a stroke.            
However, the authors note that daily diet-soda drinkers tend to be heavier and more prone to such risk factors as high blood pressure, diabetes and problem cholesterol. So the association between diet soda and disease does not prove that the drinks alone are at fault.
For now, the study's lead author Hannah Gardner says there's not enough reason for diet drinkers to change their behavior.    
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Soft Drinks Don’t Make Hardened Criminals, Experts Say

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In 1979, lawyers for Dan White, on trial for the assassination of Harvey Milk, a San Francisco city district supervisor, and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, argued that White’s diet of junk food and sugar contributed to a depressed mood and altered state of mind that led to the killings. White was convicted of manslaughter, not murder, and the “Twinkie defense” was born.

More than 30 years later, scientists say they may have found a connection between soda consumption and violence in teenagers. But not everyone buys the latest version of the “Twinkie defense.”

Researchers asked more than 1,800 Boston public high school students about their experience with violence -- whether they had been violent toward family members, friends or someone they were dating. They also asked the students if they used tobacco, consumed alcohol and how much soda they drank each week.

The scientists reported that the teens who drank five cans of non-diet soda or more each week were more likely to behave aggressively than kids who reported drinking no soda. They found that the soda-guzzling students were nine to 15 percent more likely to be violent toward others or to engage in aggressive activities, such as carrying a gun or knife to school. Teens who reported drinking alcohol or using tobacco showed the same risk of violent behavior.

The study was published Monday in the journal Injury Prevention.

When asked whether drinking lots of soda can cause teens to turn violent, several experts said no. But then there are many factors associated with both violence and diets high in sugary drinks that more likely explain the connection.

“If they’re carrying a weapon and have been violent, that may be a marker of a less stable lifestyle,” said Keith Ayoob, associate clinical professor of pediatrics and child development at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “They may be less likely to be concerned with nutrition and physical activity. They may be less likely to sit down to family dinners. They may be using soda as a vehicle for alcohol.”

Additionally, many studies have shown that people who consume diets high in junk food like soda and low in more nutritious foods are more likely to be poor. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite poverty as one of the major risk factors for youth violence. The study’s authors note that they didn’t study the socioeconomic status of the teens who reported violence. For Dr. Martin Binks, clinical director and chief executive officer of Binks Behavioral Health in Durham, N.C., that’s a big problem.

“All of their findings could have been better explained in light of socioeconomic status,” Binks said. “Knowing potential relationships between socioeconomic status and the things they’re measuring, not including that data is a major omission.”

Sara Solnick, a co-author of the study, said there’s no reason to think that drinking soda causes teens to be violent. She said the study was simply intended to give researchers a better understanding of factors leading to youth violence.

“In the effort to try to understand violence and reduce it, you have to look at all factors impacting it, and diet could well be a factor,” Solnick said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


CSPI: Caramel Coloring in Cola Can Cause Cancer

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A major consumer group called for a government ban Wednesday on two types of caramel coloring used in colas, warning that the ingredients could cause cancer.  The soft drink industry came out swinging, strongly objecting to the claim.

"We're asking the Food and Drug Administration to ban the use of caramel coloring that's used in colas and certain other soft drinks and a variety of other foods," said Michael Jacobson, Executive Director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.  "The reason is that several years ago a government agency, the National Toxicology Program, tested a contaminant in the coloring and found that it caused cancer in mice and possibly rats."

According to the CSPI, pure caramel is made by heating sugar, while the coloring found in cola like Pepsi and Coca-Cola is made by reacting sugars with ammonia.  Jacobson said the chemicals the reaction produces have been proven by federal government tests to be carcinogens, a finding that the Coca-Cola Company vehemently disputes.

"CSPI's statement irresponsibly insinuates that the caramel used in our beverages is unsafe and maliciously raises cancer concerns among consumers," the company said in a statement.  "This does a disservice to the very public for which CSPI purports to serve.  In fact, studies show that the caramel we use does not cause cancer."

For now, the FDA tells ABC News that it, along with the World Health Organization, has been studying these chemicals and their potential effects on humans.  The FDA says it will respond to CSPI's petition in accordance with required timelines. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio