Entries in Sugary Drinks (8)


Consumption of Sugary Drinks May Be Linked to Depression, Study Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BETHESDA, Md.) -- Drinking a lot of soda may cost you more than calories and cavities. A new study shows heavy consumption over the long term could be linked to higher depression risk.
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health looked at the beverage consumption of nearly 264,000 people ages 50 to 71 over the course of a year.
Checking back about 10 years later, they found that those who drank more than four cans or cups of soda per day were 30 percent more likely to have been diagnosed with depression than those who drank no soda. Additionally, those who drank four cans of fruit punch per day were about 38 percent more likely to have been diagnosed with depression than those who drank no sweetened drinks.
The risk of depression appeared to be greater for those who drank diet versions of the beverages.  
By contrast, those who drank four cups of coffee a day were about 10 percent less likely to have had a diagnosis of depression than those who drank no coffee.

The study's researchers note that more study is needed to confirm their findings.

“While our findings are preliminary, and the underlying biological mechanisms are not known, they are intriguing and consistent with a small but growing body of evidence suggesting that artificially sweetened beverages may be associated with poor health outcomes,” researcher Honglei Chen, MD, PhD, of the National Institutes of Health in Research Triangle Park, N.C., says, according to WebMD.

Though the study doesn't necessarily prove causality between sugary drinks and depression, the researchers suggest from these findings that switching your soda out for coffee may cut your risk of depression. Even better, replacing all sweetened beverages with unsweetened would cut your risks more.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


AMA Paper Says Fat Taxes, Soda Bans Make Dollars and Sense

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Taxing or limiting the serving sizes of high-calorie junk food may sound like the perfect weapon in the war against obesity, but it seems to have backfired in at least one instance.

Last week, the Danish government announced plans to scrap the tax it instituted just last year on foods high in saturated fats. The reason for the decision: Businesses are bleeding jobs and profits because Danes are crossing the German border to buy their sinful snacks more cheaply.

Despite the Danish experience, legislation to help curb obesity is gaining momentum in the U.S. New York City has led the charge by prohibiting artificial trans fats in restaurant foods, working with manufacturers to limit salt content and most recently, adopting a controversial "soda ban" to limit the size of sugary drinks sold in restaurants and bars.

Thomas A. Farley, M.D., commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and one of the architects of the New York City large soda ban, has written a commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) explaining why he thinks government regulation of junk food -- and sugary drinks in particular -- is reasonable.

"The balanced and most effective approach is for governments to regulate food products that harm the most people, simultaneously encourage food companies to voluntarily produce and market healthful products, and then provide information to consumers in ways that facilitate their choosing healthful products," he said.

In the commentary he noted that while many foods contribute to excess calorie intake, sugary drinks are among the biggest culprits in the American diet. He said there's been up to a ten-fold increase in serving sizes and a near tripling of consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks since the 1970s to coincide with skyrocketing obesity rates.

"The average consumer now drinks 140-180 excess calories per day in sugary drinks. That's enough to add several pounds a year, every year. Consumption has also been linked with diabetes and heart disease independent of weight gain," he said.

Barry Popkin, a professor in the department of nutrition at the University of North Carolina, agreed there's plenty of data to justify legislation against highly sweetened beverages. In 2010 he published a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine that followed the dietary habits of 5,000 people for more than 10 years, and found that both weight and risk of diabetes decreased in communities where soda and fast-food prices increased.

"We know that if we tax sugar-sweetened drinks at a rate of at least 20 percent -- a few cents an ounce -- it helps lower obesity rates," Popkin said.

Some experts disagree, however.

"The problem is we think if we tax these things people will drink tap water -- they won't," said Brian Wansink, professor of marketing at Cornell University.

Wansink cited a soon-to-be published study in which he asked an upstate New York supermarket chain to place a levy on soda and junk food for a year. As predicted, the extra cost led to lower consumption of those items -- but it also led to a sizable increase in beer sales.

Wansink said that more research is needed to assess the need for government control over other types of junk food as well. Such laws could backfire in a number of ways, he said: People sometimes respond to lower fat and calorie choices by eating a greater number of total calories. They may cut back on healthy foods in order to compensate for the higher cost of their indulgences. Or, as in Denmark, local businesses may pay the price when consumers take their business elsewhere.

Currently trans fats, salt and sugar are the ingredients most often taxed or rationed. Farley said there is strong evidence each of these cause serious health problems. He doesn't see any other foods meeting the same criteria right now. Of course, that could change. And, unlike smoking, where there is one product to tax and regulate, it may be difficult to know where to draw the line.

As for the Danes, Popkin said he thought they gave up on their saturated fat tax too easily. He's disappointed they didn't stick it out longer.

But the Danish government has already moved on. They've asked Wansink to explore more positive ways to encourage healthy behavior. He's currently spending two years transforming supermarkets on the Danish island of Bornholm (population 40,000) to make the sales of healthy foods more appealing for consumers and retailers alike.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Welch’s Threatened Over Heart Health Claims

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Welch's promotes its grape juice and other products as healthy, but one group says those health benefits are actually outweighed by an overabundance of sugar and calories.

“Welch's shouldn't be slapping a heart-health icon on its grape juice and other products,” the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest said Tuesday.

“[N]ot only does Welch's juice not improve heart health,” the group alleges, “it may, on balance, do harm by contributing to insulin resistance and obesity.” The CSPI says it notified the company “that it will face a lawsuit unless it stops making heart-health claims on its juices, spreads, fruit juice cocktails, and fruit snacks.”

The group says an 8-ounce serving of Welch's juice contains 36 grams of sugar and 140 calories, more than the same amount of Coca-Cola.

"Most Americans concerned about their weight and risk of diabetes would actually do well to drink less juice," CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson said. "It's deceptive and misleading for Welch's to claim that grape juice has any special benefit to heart health."

Welch's maintains that its Concord grapes promote heart health and, in a statement provided to ABC News, calls the accusations against their messaging "misguided."

“When it comes to heart health, the substantial body of research conducted over a 15-year period supports the cardiovascular benefits of 100% grape juice made with Concord grapes, including many placebo controlled, human studies,” the company said. “In addition, a recent comprehensive review of the science published in Nutrition Today concluded that consuming grapes and grape juice can support cardiovascular health without adversely affecting weight in healthy adults.

“Contrary to CSPI’s view on the role of 100% fruit juice, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that everyone – adults and children – get more fruit each day,” the statement continued. “The guidelines also say that 100% juice is one way to add more fruit to the diet as a complement to whole fruit intake.

“Furthermore, equating the nutritional value of 100% grape juice to soft drinks is not only misleading but potentially harmful to the public.  Calorie for calorie, 100% grape juice packs more nutrition than soft drinks and delivers essential vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant nutrients – to help promote health,” the company said.

“CSPI has raised a number of other specific accusations and since those specifics are subjects of potential litigation, we are unable to provide further comment.  Welch’s has always taken our responsibility to consumers seriously and will continue to take great care in our messages.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


School Snack Laws Effective in Curbing Weight Gain, Study Finds

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- State laws that curb the sale of junk food in schools may be helping combat childhood obesity, according to the findings of a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

In the first national study to measure the effectiveness of state laws that curb the sale of sugary snacks and drinks, researchers found that kids in grades five through eight who lived in states with stronger laws actually gained less weight than kids in states without them.

“[I]t really shows that there can be an effect -- a positive effect -- by curbing the sale of junk food and sweetened drinks,” said Dr. Keith Ayoob, associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. Ayoob was not involved in the study.

These findings, though not considered hard proof because the differences were slight, are increasing optimism among public health experts. Ayoob says states that do not have laws limiting the consumption of junk food and low nutrient drinks in schools might want to consider adopting legislation that would do so.

And while curbing junk food in school is a good start, it’s critical that healthy habits extend beyond the classroom, Ayoob says. “That's where maybe parents can have a bigger impact.”

The study was conducted over three years and involved more than 6,000 kids in 40 states.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Can a 'Fat Tax' Help Lower Obesity?

Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Adding a high tax on unhealthy food and drinks may help slow the rising rates of obesity, according to a new study published Tuesday in the British Medical Journal

Previous studies suggest that the sharp tax increase on cigarettes in 2009 has contributed to the dramatic decrease in the number of smokers in the U.S. And it's hoped a "fat" tax would work the same way.

A tax of at least 20 percent placed on sugar-sweetened drinks could drop obesity rates by 3.5 percent and prevent 2,700 heart-related deaths each year, according to the study.

Nearly 34 percent of Americans are obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The growing obesity rate has led to high cholesterol, and an increase in chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and cancer.  The goal of the tax is to curb sales of unhealthy food and decrease overconsumption, which may help to prevent disease.

The study also called for subsidizing the cost of healthy foods and vegetables to make them more affordable to greater numbers of people.

A growing number of European countries, including Denmark and France, have already imposed a tax on unhealthy food and drinks.

But not all foods that are high in fat are considered unhealthy, which may challenge the notion of imposing a blanket tax, some food policy experts said.  It's important to first distinguish what food and drink should be labeled "unhealthy" before imposing a tax, they said.

"Some high fat food like nuts are related to reduced weight gain," said Dr. Walt Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at Harvard University's School of Public Health.

Salmon and avocados, also high in unsaturated, so-called good fat, are also considered healthy foods.  Unsaturated fat eaten in moderation can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.

"A focus on sugar and refined starch is better, but as a first step I favor a focus just on sugar-sweetened beverages as the evidence is strongest for this," said Willett.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sugary Beverages Could Increase Female Cardiovascular Risks

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NORMAN, Okla.) -- Drinking as little as two sweetened beverages a day can not only widen a woman’s waistline, but can increase her risk of diabetes and high cholesterol, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Oklahoma in Norman.

Researchers found that women who drank two or more sweetened drinks, such as soda or flavored water, were four times as likely to develop high cholesterol and impaired tolerance for glucose—both associated with increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Researchers from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center followed more than 4,000 men and women ages 45 to 84 over a five-year span and monitored their sugar-sweetened beverage intake along with weight, waist circumference, cholesterol and diabetes markers.

The effects from the study on women were not found in men.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Kids Still Slurping Down Sodas

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Sugary soda doesn't do a body much good, but neither do rules that ban their consumption from schools, a new study has found.

In an effort to combat childhood obesity, 14 states in 2009-2010 banned soda from vending machines in schools, while 19 states prohibited students from buying these soft drinks on lunch lines.  About 25 states do not limit the kinds of drinks youngsters purchase in school.

While kids were consuming less soda in states that banned their purchase, 30 percent of middle-school kids still managed to drink sports and fruit beverages that contain high amounts of sugar, about the same percentage as those in states without soda-free policies.

The report, released by the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, also revealed that students still drank sugar-sweetened beverages outside of schools that banned them, a finding that indicates more has to be done to educate parents about the drawbacks of kids downing sodas, sports drinks and fruit juices.

It's believed that adolescents get about 13 percent of their daily caloric intake from these drinks, which can lead to weight gain and serious conditions such as diabetes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Half of Americans Consume Sugary Drinks

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Half of all Americans aged 2 and older consume sugary drinks on any given day and at least 25 percent of Americans drink the caloric equivalent of more than one can of soda a day, according to a new report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Consumption of sugar drinks in the United States has increased over the past 30 years among both children and adults," wrote the report's authors, led by Cynthia Ogden of CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.

Most people drink their sugary beverages -- defined as fruit drinks, sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, and sweetened bottled waters -- in their own home. About 36 percent of sugar drinks are consumed in restaurants and fast food establishments. Children drink only 2 percent of these beverages in schools or day care centers.

The data, gathered from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2005 and 2008, also show that males get about twice as many calories from sugary drinks as females, and 70 percent of boys between the ages of 2 and 19 drink sugary beverages on any given day.

African Americans are the biggest consumers of sugar drinks, and lower income Americans also drink more of these beverages than their wealthier counterparts.

Nutrition experts say while it is somewhat encouraging that about half of Americans don't drink sugary beverages on a daily basis, many people are still not making the right choices when they go out to stores or restaurants.

While the report does not look at how the consumption of sugar beverages affect a person's health, previous studies have suggested a link between certain health problems and these types of drinks.

"Sugar drinks have been linked to poor diet quality, weight gain, obesity, and, in adults, type 2 diabetes," the authors wrote.

Additionally, the American Heart Association recommends an intake of fewer than the caloric equivalent of three 12-oz. cans of soda per week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio